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BMW invests in Mini plant flexibility

One of BMW Group’s key objectives with its investment of around £200m in the Mini plant is to maintain production flexibility as the model range grows.

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was at the Oxford assembly plant for the start of second generation Mini assembly.

A third model is due within three years, to be sold alongside the mainstream two-door and its convertible derivative. All three will be, in effect, built to order, with dealers able to pass customers’ specification requests to the plant until a week before assembly.

A BMW Group spokeswoman says: “Customers have typically ordered optional extras worth £2,000, and we and our dealers want to benefit in a similar way in the future.”

Dealers are taking orders for the new Cooper and Cooper S, on sale from late this year. Annual capacity at Oxford has been raised from 200,000 to 240,000, with UK content increasing from 40% to 60%.

Since 2000, BMW has invested almost £1bn in the UK, including the latest injection, which was divided between Oxford (£100m), Swindon body pressings and sub assemblies (£60m) and the Birmingham Hams Hall engine plant (£30m). UK suppliers have invested more than £40m.

BMW has created a ‘production triangle,’ with components supplied at four hours’ notice from Swindon. Engines are delivered to the plant just in time.

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