The new MINI will be produced in Oxford with a 20 per cent expansion in capacity to 240,000 cars a year as part of a £200 million UK investment by BMW Group, which will also create 450 new jobs, it was announced today (13th September).

The worldwide success of the MINI over the past five years has prompted BMW Group to invest heavily in its UK manufacturing operations for the new model, creating a MINI production triangle in the UK linking its plants in Oxford, Swindon and Hams Hall near Birmingham.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP, was at BMW Group’s Oxford plant for the start of production of the new MINI, along with guests from UK industry and BMW’s Group’s recently-appointed Chairman of the Board of Management, Dr Norbert Reithofer.

The company’s plants at Oxford, Swindon and Hams Hall have all received substantial investment from BMW Group to build the new model. As production levels rise, up to 250 new jobs will be created at Hams Hall and 200 jobs at Oxford.

Dr Reithofer said: “The MINI has been an outstanding, international success for the company and our investment will ensure that we can build on this success in the future. Our new MINI production triangle has established a lean, efficient and flexible production network and allows us to continue to offer MINI customers unrivalled built-to-order flexibility in the small car segment.”

The Oxford assembly plant has received over £100 million to expand production levels from 200,000 to 240,000 units a year in the medium term, Plant Swindon £60 million for MINI body pressing and sub-assembly technologies and Hams Hall nearly £30 million to build a new, advanced family of petrol engines especially for MINI and previously sourced from Brazil.

BMW Group has re-located significant components, such as engines, to the UK. The UK-based supply industry is also benefiting with key, large-scale components - known as modules - being sourced from within the UK.

A number of external suppliers of these sub-assemblies have also invested in new facilities to be within one hour’s travelling time of the Oxford plant to meet rising production levels and BMW Group’s requirement for a lean, efficient and flexible manufacturing system within the UK. This represents a supplier investment of more than £40 million and the creation of more than 750 jobs in the UK automotive supply base and sees British content of the new MINI rising to 60 per cent from 40 per cent on the previous model.

Launched by BMW Group in 2001, more than 880,000 MINIs have so far been produced and sold with 75 per cent of production being exported to over 70 markets worldwide.

Body panels and sub-assemblies can be supplied at four hours’ notice from Plant Swindon to Plant Oxford and the engines are delivered from Hams Hall not only just-in-time but in the correct sequence, directly to the assembly line.

The pioneering flexible working system, introduced at Oxford in 2001, has been replicated at the two other MINI production triangle plants to enable working across the three factories to be equally responsive to customer choice of model derivatives, and options as well as overall levels of demand. BMW Group currently employs around 8,000 people in its UK operations with an additional 10,900 within its 156-strong dealer network. As well as the plants at Oxford, Swindon and Hams Hall, BMW Group has established a headquarters and manufacturing facility at Goodwood for the manufacture of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

Since 2000 the company has invested £800 million in its UK operations. Today’s announcement brings the total to nearly £1,000 million.

Published : 13/09/06 Author : Melanie Carter

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