MINI Production Milestone Reached (2004)

Refreshed specification models increase in price by an average by 2.5 per cent

At 11am on Wednesday 25 August 2004, MINI production at Plant Oxford reached a milestone two years ahead of schedule.

When MINI was re-launched under the ownership of BMW three years ago it was anticipated it would take five years to reach the half-million production target. Unexpected customer demand and more efficient manufacturing processes has enabled this milestone to be reached in 2004, approximately half way through the lifespan of this generation of MINI.

The 500,000th MINI, a dark silver MINI Cooper S bound for America, MINI’s second biggest market after the UK, rolled off the Cowley production lines in Oxford just as the latest addition to the MINI range the Cooper S Convertible was being revealed to the Media.

Sales of the Cooper S Convertible, priced at £17,595, start in the UK immediately although delivery dates for all MINI Convertible models to customers in this country are not likely to take place until March 2005.

Of the half a million British built MINI models produced to date, 375,000 of them - 75 per cent of production, have been exported. MINI is now the UK’s fifth largest car manufacturer.

Emma Lowndes, MINI Marketing Manager said at the unveiling of the new Cooper S Cabriolet, "Almost four year ago to the day I was given a blank sheet of paper to come up with a marketing plan for MINI One and our MINI Adventure theme was the outcome".

"Our initial research showed that 60 per cent of UK people said they knew the MINI very well and nine out of ten people said they had sat in or driven a MINI".

"Today four words sum up people’s experience of what MINI stands for - gutsy, classless, innovative and fresh".

"Typical owners of new MINI are everybody but they tend to be more active, outgoing and socialise a lot," said Lowndes.

"We came up with the MINI Adventure concept as a way of reaching potential customers who we know were not the type to sit and wait for manufacturers to sell them a new car using conventional advertising methods. Putting our product in front of potential customers with campaigns such as the MINI on top of a bus driven around major UK cities, the MINI Adventure open air theatres in town centres using a MINI as a stage together with putting a MINI replica half way up several tall buildings in major towns and cities and the memorable poster, cinema and television advertising campaigns has reached our active and outgoing natured customers".

"What does appeal to MINI buyers is the option for them to customise their chosen model to their exact specification and they have a choice of 50,000 combinations of options and accessories," said Lowndes.

With production of the Cooper S Convertible now underway at Plant Oxford together with the MINI One and MINI Cooper Convertibles launched in June, one in four MINI bodyshells coming off the lines is a convertible. 600 MINIS of all types come off the production lines daily.

Plant Oxford with 4,500 employees is currently working at maximum capacity operating seven days a week on a three-shift system. 180,000 MINIs are expected to be built at Plant Oxford this year and these will be sold in 73 countries worldwide.

Trevor Houghton-Berry, General Manager MINI confirmed that the current range was about halfway through its lifecycle and the next generation will continue to be built at Oxford. It is expected that the production capacity of Plant Oxford will be increased to coincide with the new models in about three years time.

Houghton-Berry said, "Additional model types will be part of the second generation and these could include a two-seater cabriolet, a retro style Countryman estate and I would love to build a MINI Moke replacement but we must produce future models which are viable and have some substance."

"I’d prefer to include a sports utility model in the range rather than an MPV but are not writing any future design of model off if it is financially sound to produce it" he said.

Houghton-Berry confirmed that the next generation of MINIs would use a range of new petrol engines designed by BMW with the components manufactured by PSA and the engines then assembled at BMW’s engine plant at Hams Hall in Birmingham. No decision had been made on whether the next generation MINI range would still continue to use the Toyota sourced diesel engines.

As well as launching the170bhp Cooper S Convertible today, MINI also revealed other refreshed specification changes to models in the range. These changes include new front and rear bumper designs, new style front and rear light clusters and detailed interior changes. Prices rise on average by 2.5 per cent and now start at £10,780 for the MINI One saloon and £13,325 for the MINI One Cabriolet model.

As part of the refreshment changes the latest MINI One and MINI Cooper models are now fitted with five-speed Getrag transmissions while the new Cooper S has a six-speed Getrag unit.

Published 3 September 2004 Melanie Carter
 

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