BMW Group Invests Over £100 Million In The Oxford Plant

The BMW Group is investing over £100 million in its Oxford plant between now and 2007 and is creating around 200 new jobs in MINI production.

Most of the investment is destined for a new body shell production building and further modernisation of the paint shop to increase production flexibility at the plant.

Laying the foundation stone for the new 15,000 m² body shop, Dr Norbert Reithofer, member of the board for production at BMW AG, today signalled the start of preparation for MINI production to meet the future needs of the brand and the market. "These measures will allow us to react even more flexibly to the high demand for MINI throughout the world. At the same time, we are increasing our flexibility as regards the production of the various MINI model variants", said Reithofer.

Since its launch in 2001, production figures for the MINI, originally planned for around 100,000 vehicles per year, reached a record level of 189,492 in 2004 making the Oxford plant the 4th largest vehicle producer in the UK. The total number of employees has risen to 4,500 including 128 apprentices.

This growth has been based on continuous efficiency improvements in production processes including ideas from the plant's employees which have led to savings of £17.2 million since 2002. With one of the most flexible working time models in the UK automotive industry, the current three-shift working pattern enables the plant, in response to customer demand, to run 7 days and up to 134 hours per week using the remaining time for maintenance and cleaning.

Dr Heiss, managing director of Plant Oxford, said: "It's not just the high quality of vehicles produced here but also the customer focus and production flexibility that have played such a major role in the car's success. The contribution of our employees through their flexibility and commitment to MINI has also provided the foundation for this latest investment. Today's ceremony marks a further milestone in the future of MINI in Oxford and the MINI adventure is set to continue!"

From 2007, over 80 people and 160 computer-controlled welding robots will be assembling MINI body shells in the new building. The paint shop will be equipped with new, highly efficient and flexible paint technologies to improve both capacity and flexibility.

The links between the Oxford plant and the BMW Group's plants at Hams Hall and Swindon are also to be strengthened with the supply of engines and pressed parts.

A time capsule, containing a MINI model, some MINI production materials, a drawing by one of the children at the company's MINI Kidz day nursery adjacent to the plant, and a copy of the Oxford Mail newspaper, is being laid with the foundation stone.

Between 2000 and 2004, the BMW Group invested £280 million in the production of MINI vehicles in Oxford. MINI is on sale in more than 70 different countries from Chile to China and worldwide sales since launch reached a total of 529,921 vehicles at the end of 2004. The UK remains the largest market followed by the US and Germany with more than 70 per cent of MINIs being exported from the Oxford plant.


Published : 18/02/05 Author : Melanie Carter

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