There was some speculation that production of the traditional British small car would shift to Germany, as the new MINI is rumoured to share its front-wheel drive architecture with an upcoming compact BMW model.
Chairman of the board of management at BMW AG, Norbert Reithofer, confirmed the investment, which will largely be used to create new production facilities and equipment at MINI Plant Oxford.
“We have started preparing our UK plants for production of the next-generation MINI and this investment underlines that the UK will remain the heart of MINI production,” Mr Reithofer said in London overnight.“The MINI brand has made a significant contribution to BMW Group’s success in markets around the world and we anticipate that this will grow further in the future.”
The investment will secure more than 5000 jobs at the assembly plant at Oxford, the pressings plant in Swindon and the engine plant at Hams Hall.
BMW Group has produced the MINI in Oxford for the past 10 years, over which time more than 1.5 million vehicles have been delivered to customers in 90 different countries.
The MINI Cooper hatch, Cabrio and Clubman are built in the UK, and will be joined by the Coupe in the coming months and the Roadster in 2012. The MINI Countryman is produced in Austria. The all-new MINI range is expected to roll off the Oxford production line in either late-2012 or early-2013.
Meanwhile, production of another classic British design, the Aston Martin Rapide, will shift from Austria to the company’s traditional headquarters in Gaydon in the second half of 2012.
Aston Martin CEO, Ulrich Bez, said facility restrictions in 2008 forced the brand to send Rapide production to its current Magna Steyr plant, where it has been in full-scale production since 2010.
“Now, three years on things are very different,” Dr Bez said. “Gaydon is more established, more flexible and more efficient.“While our overall volume has not changed significantly, we now produce a far richer model mix – eight model lines (plus five variants) compared to three model lines (plus two variants) in 2008 – so Rapide production is now possible.”
He confirmed work would commence immediately at Gaydon to ensure production started on schedule in the second half of 2012.