BMW Group UK marked 100 years of car manufacturing in Oxford today, where Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin was joined by Harald Krueger, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, to open a centenary exhibition at the new Visitor Centre at MINI Plant Oxford. A classic Mini and a new MINI Hatch are also on display in SMMT’s Westminster exhibition space to mark the occasion.
One hundred years ago to the day, the first ‘Bullnose’ Morris Oxford was built by William Morris just a few hundred metres from where the MINI plant stands today. With a weekly production run of just 20 vehicles in 1913, the business grew rapidly and over the last century 11.65 million cars have been produced, bearing 13 British brands and one Japanese. Almost half a million people have worked at the plant in the past 100 years, with employment peaking at 28,000 in the early 1960s.
Today, Plant Oxford employs 3,700 associates who manufacture up to 900 MINIs every day. It is at the heart of MINI production with the manufacture of the MINI Hatch, Convertible, Clubman, Clubvan, Roadster and CoupÃƒ©. Since 2001, 1.7 million MINIs have been exported to more than 100 markets around the world.
Congratulating the plant on its historic milestone, Prime Minister David Cameron said, “The Government is working closely with the automotive industry so that it continues to compete and thrive in the global race and the success of MINI around the world stands as a fine example of British manufacturing at its best. The substantial contribution which the Oxford plant has made to the local area and the British economy over the last 100 years is something we should be proud of.”
While visiting the plant, the Transport Secretary viewed the new bodyshop and saw some of the 1,000 new robots being installed in this facility. It represents the majority of BMW Group’s £750 million UK investment programme, preparing the company’s manufacturing facilities for the next generation MINI.
Harald Krueger said, “We have ambitious growth plans for MINI and are now preparing for the launch of the next generation of the MINI family. We will grow the model range in the coming years and our volume expectations in the medium term will see MINI reaching well beyond the current 300,000 annual car sales worldwide.”
Commenting on the achievement, Mr McLoughlin said, “Today’s celebrations at MINI are not just an occasion to look back with nostalgia on past achievements, but an opportunity to recognise the vitally important contribution that manufacturing will continue to make to the UK’s economic future.”
Visit our dedicated UK automotive investment page to find out more about recent financial and employment commitments to the industry.
Click through the slideshow below to see all the photos from SMMT’s exhibition space.