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BMW to coincide annual UK factory shutdown with Brexit date

September 18, 2018

BMW has moved forward the annual shutdown of its Mini plant in Oxford to coincide with the UK's EU withdrawal date. The German carmaker said it hoped to guard against any supply hiccups in case of a no-deal Brexit.

BMW Mini factory in Cowley, Oxford
Image: picture-alliance/empics/A. Devlin

German car giant BMW announced Tuesday that it was bringing forward next year's annual maintenance shutdown of its Mini factory in Oxford to April 1, the first working day after the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union.

Carmakers generally halt production during the summer to allow for retooling and repair work in their factories, while most staff take vacation and sales are their low ebb for the year.

However, BMW said that the 2019 shutdown would be moved to coincide with Brexit as insurance against any supply chain issues should the UK crash out of the EU without a deal.

"As a responsible organization, we have scheduled next year's annual maintenance period at Mini Plant Oxford to start on 1 April, when the UK exits the EU," the carmaker said in a brief statement released to the media.

The move, BMW added, sought "to minimize the risk of any possible short-term parts-supply disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit."

Britain's largely foreign-owned car industry, which employs over 850,000 people, has repeatedly warned against the threat of a no-deal Brexit, arguing it would hurt investment, ramp up production costs, and endanger supply chains within the EU.

Britain is only country in which the German automaker has production sites for all three of its car brands — BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce. Some 220,000 vehicles were manufactured at its Oxford plant last year, accounting for 13 percent of Britain's total car production.

Read more: Jaguar Land Rover to recruit 5,000 more tech staff amid Brexit worries

BMW also sought to ensure that it remained committed to its UK operations regardless of the Brexit outcome, saying it considered a "worst-case scenario" hard-Brexit unlikely but insisted "we have to plan for it."

BMW's announcement comes just a day after the UK's biggest carmaker, Jaguar Land Rover, said it was going down to a three-day working week at its Castle Bromwich factory from October until the beginning of December amid Brexit uncertainty.

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dm/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP)