One of the UK’s biggest car manufacturing operations has entered a new era this week with the debut of the new MINI hatchback. The launch of the new car marks the culmination of £750 million investment into BMW’s three UK-based manufacturing sites, and secures the futures of the 5,500-strong workforce currently employed across the network.
The MINI plant in Oxford benefits from the majority of the investment, and has received a major overhaul with the addition of a new body shop employing 1,000 robots. Elsewhere, a raft of new technologies will be implemented at the Swindon-based steel body pressings factory, while the Hams Hall plant near Birmingham is gearing up to produce a new range of advanced three- and four-cylinder engines.
Prime Minister David Cameron said, “I was lucky enough to get an early preview of the new MINI – a classic British icon – during a visit to the factory in Oxford last month. This £750 million investment is great news for both the local and wider economy, along with the 5,500 workers whose jobs are safeguarded by this launch.
“Car manufacturing is a vital engine for growth. Production is back up to pre-recession levels and a car rolls off the line every 20 seconds in the UK. But we’re not complacent. Our industrial strategy is a key part of government’s economic plan and we’re helping to drive the car industry further and faster with over £4 billion of investment.”
In addition to the new bodyshop, MINI Plant Oxford also gains an upgraded paint shop and final assembly area. The site’s green credentials have been boosted too, with a plethora of new schemes to reduce its carbon footprint and improve its waste management.
Harald Krueger, BMW Group’s Board Member for Production, said, “In our Oxford plant’s centenary year, we are continuing the MINI brand success story and today starting production of the third model generation.
“Our total investment of £750 million in our British production locations of Oxford, Swindon and Hams Hall between 2012 and 2015 underscores the importance of the MINI production triangle within our global production network. The UK is the heart of MINI production – thanks to the experience, competence and strong commitment of all our employees.”
The UK has built more than 1 million cars so far this year. The latest manufacturing figures will be released later this week – come back to the SMMT website on Thursday morning for full details.