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by Tim Beissmann

BMW Group has announced an additional £250 million ($380 million) investment into its three UK-based Mini production facilities as it prepares to expand its line-up to 10 different models in the medium-term.

The funds from Mini’s German-based parent company will be split between its assembly plant in Oxford, steel body pressing site in Swindon and engine plant at Hams Hall by the end of 2015, giving added job security to the 5500 workers employed within the UK Mini production network.

The funding comes just 12 months after BMW injected £500 million ($761 million) into Mini’s UK manufacturing, and takes the group’s total investment in the UK to £1.75 billion ($2.66 billion) since 2000.

A side effect of extra volume and added production complexity created by the new model lines is that future vehicle production will exceed the capacity of the Oxford assembly plant, forcing the brand to consider other assembly options.

The front-runner is a Mitsubishi-owned facility in the Netherlands called Nedcar, with BMW Group executive Harald Krueger highlighting it as a potential home for the brand’s growth.

“Our preferred option is to establish a contract manufacturer as a satellite production as close to our UK operations as possible, at the Nedcar plant in The Netherlands, with whom BMW is in discussions,” Krueger said.

Nedcar has an annual production capacity of about 200,000 vehicles and currently produces the Mitsubishi Colt and Outlander for Europe.

Krueger insisted Oxford would share its manufacturing expertise with the new plant to ensure it was capable of offering customers the same levels of quality and personalisation options.

“Just as Munich is the centre of the BMW world, Oxford is and will remain the home and the heart of MINI.”

The Mini Hatch, Cabrio, Clubman, Coupe and Roadster are all produced in Oxford, while the Mini Countryman is assembled by Magna Steyr in Austria.

Mini’s seventh model line, the Clubvan, will join the Clubman on the production line in Oxford, while the upcoming Mini Paceman – a coupe version of the Countryman – will expand Magna Steyr’s production role from 2013.

A sedan, a compact MPV and an even smaller hatch based on the Mini Rocketman concept have all been rumoured to expand the line-up by 2020, although none have been officially confirmed for production at this stage.




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