Tag Archives : Plant Oxford


15 Years of MINI Production at Plant Oxford

15 Years of MINI Production at Plant Oxford

From BMW Group PressClub UK:

Plant Oxford today celebrates 15 years since the first new MINIs rolled off the production line on 26 April, 2001.

The BMW Group, which is marking its centenary year in 2016, acquired the plant in 1994 and relaunched the brand in 2001 with the debut of the new MINI Hatch.

Since then more than 2.5 million MINIs have been produced in Oxford, with the three million milestone expected to be hit later this year. 80 per cent of the cars made here are exported to more than 110 countries around the world.

The 2001 MINI launch was the reinvention of a British motoring icon, which generated headlines around the world. As well as making the news, the car was subsequently recognised with several industry awards after it went on sale. This included being voted ‘Car of the Year’ in 2001 by leading UK weekly car magazine, Auto Express. Impressed by the car’s driving abilities, quality levels and safety features, the magazine praised the fact that the classic Mini’s DNA was “unmistakable” in the new car.

Sales of MINI, both in the UK and internationally, have gone from strength to strength over the last 15 years. In its first year nearly 40,000 MINIs were sold worldwide. By 2015 this number had risen to nearly 340,000, with more than 63,000 sold to customers in the UK – the highest since the brand’s relaunch.

Frank Bachmann, Managing Director of MINI Plant Oxford, said: “MINI is an iconic British brand that has made a remarkable journey over the past 15 years. In that time we’ve more than doubled our capacity and gone from producing just one model to an entire range of MINIs that have proved hugely popular with customers around the world. Making 1,000 high-quality cars to individual order each day is a huge challenge but we succeed in doing so because of the passion and expertise of our workforce. Today, we celebrate what’s been achieved so far and look forward to an even brighter future here in Oxford – the heart of MINI production.”

The plant’s automotive history dates back to 1913 when the great designer, entrepreneur and philanthropist William Morris (later Lord Nuffield), produced its first car, a “Bullnose” Morris, near today’s present state-of-the-art MINI production facility. The classic Mini was produced at Oxford from 1959 until 1968 with a peak output of 94,889 cars during 1966/67.

Today, more than 4,500 people are employed at the site in Cowley, which manufactures around 1,000 cars a day, including three and five door MINIs, the MINI Clubman and its first all-wheel drive All4 model – and the high-performance MINI John Cooper Works.

Three UK plants have had a part to play in MINI production – Hams Hall near Birmingham makes engines, Swindon produces body pressings and sub-assemblies for MINI, and this all comes together at Oxford with body shell production, paint and final assembly. Together these plants have helped to generate and sustain employment for thousands of people directly and indirectly though the wider supply chain and retailers.

Between 2012 and 2015 BMW Group invested £750 million at the plants, taking investment in UK production to £1.75 billion since 2000. At Oxford this has included a state-of-the-art paintshop, a high-technology body building facility, a new final assembly area, a new logistics centre, Quality and Engineering Centre and the MINIcademy, where the plant’s apprentices are trained.

Joining Technician Chris Wherritt is one of 22 current plant associates who began their careers as apprentices in 2001.

Chris said: “Starting my apprenticeship straight from school was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. After all, 2001 was a big year for the plant — I knew it would be a big change but I wasn’t aware at the time just how successful the new MINI was going to be. I already had a position secured for after my apprenticeship when the 2001 MINI rolled off the production line, and the launch was all over the news — that’s when I knew both the MINI and I had a bright future ahead of us.”

Helen Evans, currently in her first year as an engineering apprentice, said: “I’ve always been fascinated by cars and so seeing MINI’s transformation while still paying homage to the original has been really interesting. It’s been a great experience working at the plant so far and I’m really excited to see how my career with MINI will evolve in the future.”

The first MINIs – which were registered with ‘Y’ prefixed number plates – are now considered by many enthusiasts and fans of the brand to be modern classics.

MINI enthusiast Tanya Field, whose husband Jason works at the plant in IT, is working to set up a new club – Y REGister – to bring together owners of MINIs made in Oxford in 2001.

Tanya said: “Today is a wonderful milestone for MINI Plant Oxford. The first MINIs are 15 years old and are now becoming modern classics and are increasingly collectable. The creation of the Y REGister shows the growing interest in these MINIs and the heritage of the modern MINI.  As someone who’s passionate about the plant’s heritage, this is something that’s really important to me.”

Editor’s notes

  • MINI is the only car in the segment that offers Head Up Display, which projects important information into the driver’s line of vision, thus eliminating the need to take their eyes off the road.
  • The John Cooper Works Hatch has the best power to weight ratio in the segment as well as the highest top speed and the best acceleration of a non 4-wheel drive car in the segment.
  • MINI Cooper D is the fastest accelerating car to be sub 100kg / km in the segment.
  • MINI Touch Controller enables users to draw in postcodes using their fingertips.

 


3 Millionth MINI Produced

3 Millionth MINI (line)

MINI announced today that it produced the 3 Millionth MINI.  The milestone MINI is a 2015 MINI Cooper S Hardtop 5 Door with special Union Jack graphics.

Watch the video of the MINI coming off the production line at the Oxford Mail.

From BMW Group PresClub Global:

Oxford/Munich. Thirteen years after the brand re-launch in 2001, MINI has reached an impressive milestone today, as the three-millionth MINI rolled off the assembly line at the Oxford plant in the UK. Two million MINIs have been exported from the UK to more than 110 countries over the same period. Harald Krüger, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Production, and Peter Schwarzenbauer, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for MINI, BMW Motorrad, Rolls-Royce and Aftersales, joined Baroness Susan Kramer, British Minister of State for Transport, and Frank Bachmann, managing director of Plants Oxford and Swindon, to celebrate the special-anniversary vehicle as part of an official ceremony. The car is a MINI 5 Door sporting the UK’s Union Jack.

Made in England: MINI production in the UK

Plant Oxford currently produces the MINI, MINI 5-door, MINI Convertible, MINI Roadster and MINI Coupé models. The success of the MINI brand can be seen in the positive developments at Plant Oxford since 2001. Back then, a single shift of around 2,400 employees produced about 300 cars a day. Today, the Oxford site employs around 4,000 people. Working three shifts, the plant produces around 1,000 MINI cars per day.

The UK is the MINI brand’s second-largest market worldwide after the US. The UK is also the fourth-largest market for the BMW Group. 80 per cent of the MINIs made in Oxford are exported, making MINI the third-largest vehicle exporter in the UK.

“The MINI brand has had strong ties to the UK for decades. Our MINI production in Oxford represents a commitment to the brand’s identity, firmly in line with our successful strategy of “production follows the market”. Oxford is the centre of our British MINI production network, with the Swindon pressings plant and the Hams Hall engine plant near Birmingham,” stated Board of Management member for Production Harald Krüger at the event celebrating the production milestone.

“Today, we mark two important milestones for MINI. Three million MINIs produced, and two million MINIs exported from Oxford to customers worldwide. These are impressive figures and definitely a reason to celebrate. In markets big and small, MINI has always appealed to customers on an emotional level,” said Board of Management member Peter Schwarzenbauer.

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: “I congratulate the workers at MINI Plant Oxford on reaching this remarkable milestone. The MINI is a British icon and is a major part of a thriving automotive industry spearheading the growing British economy. This government is working to create the right environment for car manufacturers like BMW to continue innovating and developing British-made cars with worldwide appeal.”

Millions invested signals clear commitment to British production locations

The BMW Group has invested a total of around £1.75 billion in its British plants since 2000. Between 2012 and 2015 alone, the BMW Group is investing a total of £750 million in its MINI UK production network. This investment is part of the international growth strategy for the MINI brand and secures the long-term future of the Oxford plant and safeguard 5,600 jobs at the Oxford, Swindon and Hams Hall plants.

Global growth strategy: expansion of production capacity

The BMW Group produced a total of 303,177 MINI-brand vehicles in 2013. The production volume at MINI Oxford reached 175,986 units. A further 125,559 units of the MINI Countryman and MINI Paceman were contract-manufactured at MSF Graz in Austria and other assembly plants in Asia.

The BMW Group further expanded its production capacities as the next major step in the implementation of its global growth strategy. With the significant growth of the MINI brand, the BMW Group requires additional external production capacity beyond that of MINI Plant Oxford. Sharing production of the MINI Hatch with contract manufacturer VDL Nedcar (Born, Netherlands) since July 2014 will give the BMW Group global production network greater flexibility for other models. The British production network will nevertheless remain the heart of MINI production.

Read the press release: Double reason to celebrate: two milestones for MINI in Oxford.

3 Millionth MINI


MINI Plant Oxford turns 100

MINI Plant Oxford

From BMW Group PressClub Global:

Oxford. MINI Plant Oxford celebrates 100 years of car-making this March, against a background of rising production, increased investment and continuing expansion. Today, Plant Oxford employs 3700 associates who manufacture up to 900 MINIs every day, and has contributed over 2.25 million MINIs to the tally of over 11.65 million cars that the factory has produced since 1913.

The first car built at the factory, a Bullnose Morris Oxford, emerged on 28 March 1913 and has been followed by cars from a wide range of famous British brands – and one Japanese – including MG, Wolseley, Riley, Austin, Austin Healey, Mini, Vanden Plas, Princess, Triumph, Rover, Sterling and Honda, besides founding marque Morris and MINI. The Pressed Steel Company subsidiary occupying the same Cowley complex also built bodyshells for Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, MG, Standard-Triumph, Ford and Hillman, as well as tooling dies for Alfa Romeo. The plant has a long and impressive history of shipping cars abroad that has resulted in more than1.7 million MINIs going to overseas customers.

The plant has produced an array of famous cars, including the Bullnose Morris, the Morris Minor, the Mini, India’s Hindustan Ambassador and today’s MINI. It also produced Hondas for a short period in the ‘80s, as well as some slightly notorious models including the early Riley Pathfinder, the much-derided Morris Marina, the startling ’70s wedge that was the Princess and in the Austin Maestro one of the world’s earliest ‘talking’ cars.

There have been eight custodians of Plant Oxford over the past 100 years, beginning with founder William Morris who owned the factory both directly and through Morris Motors until 1952, when Morris merged with arch-rival Austin to form the British Motor Corporation. Morris himself, by this time known as Lord Nuffield, was chairman for six months before retiring. During the early ‘60s the plant had as many as 28,000 employees producing an extraordinary variety of models.

In 1967 BMC became British Motor Holdings after merging with Jaguar, and the following year that group was merged with the Leyland truck company (which also included Triumph and Rover) to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation. Nationalisation followed in 1974, the group undergoing several renamings until it became the Rover Group in 1986. Boss Graham Day was charged with privatising the company for the Thatcher government, which was completed in 1988 with the sale to British Aerospace. They in turn would sell the Group, which included Land Rover, to BMW in 1994.

BMW Group invested heavily in Rover, deciding early on that a replacement for the Mini would be a priority. But considerable headwinds, and an unfavourable exchange rate lead to BMW selling Rover to the Phoenix Consortium in 2000 and Land Rover to Ford in 2000. The MINI brand was retained together with Plant Oxford, as Cowley had been renamed, along with the associated Swindon pressings factory and the new Hams Hall engine plant in Birmingham that was preparing for production.

Today, Plant Oxford is flourishing with the manufacture of the MINI hatchback, Convertible, Clubman, Clubvan, Roadster and Coupé. It is currently undergoing a major investment that includes the installation of a 1000 new robots for both a new body shop and the existing facility. This represents the lion’s share of a £750m investment programme, announced in the last year, which also sees the significant upgrading and installation of new facilities at the company’s Hams Hall engine plant and the Swindon body pressings factory.

The Oxford plant has generated considerable wealth for the nation, as well as for many other countries around the world during its 100 years, providing direct employment for hundreds of thousands of employees and tens of thousands more through indirect jobs. The plant has a long history of export success, Morris products accounting for nearly 30 percent of the nation’s total exports by the mid 1930s. In 1950, the plant produced its 100,000th overseas model – a Morris Minor – and by 1962 BMC was shipping 320,000 examples of its annual production of 850,000 vehicles to over 170 countries, Oxford contributing a major part of that total. BMC was the UK’s biggest exporter in the early ‘60s, just as Morris had been in the ‘30s.

Plant Oxford has contributed to the industrial activities of a surprising number of far-flung countries too, by producing tens of thousands of cars for export in CKD (Completely Knocked Down) form for assembly in overseas factories. Countries that have built cars from kits include Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Cuba, East Africa, Ghana, Holland, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Malaya, Mexico, Nigeria, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Trinidad, Turkey, Uganda, Uruguay and many others. By 1967 CKD cars formed 40 percent of BMC’s exports, the kits assembled in 21 plants around the world. Morris Oxfords, Minors, MGAs, Minis, Morris 1100s and commercial vehicles were among the many models built in these distant factories. Plant Oxford’s export record is equally impressive today, no less than 1.7 million MINIs having been exported to over 100 countries since 2001.

Today, Plant Oxford forms the central element of BMW Group’s UK production network, which includes the Hams Hall engine factory in Birmingham and the Swindon pressings plant, formerly a part of Pressed Steel. The network faces a bright future as the next generation MINI family enters production over the coming years amid a trend of rising sales and exports.

The Cars
Many famous cars have been produced at Plant Oxford, several of them revolutionary. Here are some highlights:

‘Bullnose’ Morris Oxford 1913-26
William Morris’s first car, actually named the Morris Oxford but known as the Bullnose because of its distinctive, rounded radiator cowling in brass. A bold series of price cuts saw Morris becoming the UK’s biggest selling marque by 1924.

Morris Minor 1928-32
A small, affordable car whose price Morris eventually cut to £100, ensuring considerable popularity. Together with the baby Austin Seven, it made the motor car significantly more attainable in Britain.

Morris Eight 1935-48
A big pre-war and post-war hit, this barrel-bodied Morris developed through several iterations and remained a common sight right into the ‘60s.

Morris Minor 1948-71
A major step ahead in handling, steering, braking and roominess, the Alec Issigonis-designed Minor was a huge success. The Minor was the first British car to sell over a million, a milestone celebrated with a limited run of Minor Millions painted in a dubious shade of lilac. It was sold as a saloon, a semi-timbered Traveller estate, a convertible, a van and a pick-up.

Morris Oxford III 1956-58
The ‘50s Oxford was a family car staple of the Morris range, besides continuing with the model name that had started Morris off. An unremarkable car, except that it was the basis of India’s once hugely-popular Hindustan Ambassador, Morris shipping all the Oxford III tooling to the company in 1957. The Ambassador – or Amby, as it is fondly known – remains in small-scale production today.

BMC Mini 1959-69
The revolutionary Mini was another creation from Alec Issigonis, its transverse, front-wheel drive powertrain and space-efficient packaging redefining small car design. Go-kart handling soon inspired the sportier Coopers and giant-slaying, headline-making competition performances. Classless, fashionable, much-loved and widely exported, it introduced a word to the English language and became Britain’s most famous – and most produced – car. Plant Oxford manufactured it for 10 years from 1959, its counterpart Longbridge, Birmingham factory remaining the chief UK source until its demise in 2000.

BMC 1100/1300 1962-74
The second front-drive Issigonis model, essentially an enlarged Mini with Pininfarina styling and Hydrolastic fluid suspension. The most advanced small family car on sale at the time, it sold even faster than the Mini to become Britain’s best-seller for 10 years. Launched as a Morris, it was also sold as an Austin, MG, Riley, Vanden Plas and a Wolseley, and was offered in two-door, four-door and estate bodystyles.

Morris Marina 1971-80
Much derided at the time, but the Ford Cortina-bashing Marina was a top five best-seller for years despite its simple mechanicals, and a mainstay of the plant through the 1970s. Unusual for offering a coupe version that was cheaper than the saloon, it was replaced by the lightly restyled Ital in 1980, this car destined to be the last Morris. Like the Minor it replaced, the Marina achieved sales of over one million.

Triumph Acclaim 1981-84
Essentially a rebadged Honda Civic, the Acclaim was a stop-gap model that was the product of an unusual deal struck in 1979 by BL Cars and Honda. The goal was to providing BL with a new model offering between the 1980 launch of the Austin miniMetro and 1983’s Austin Maestro, the Acclaim’s Honda-designed production lines also prompting the installation of the first robots at the Oxford plant. The Acclaim was also significant for being the first Japanese car to be built in the UK, and the last Triumph. The BL-Honda partnership eventually led to the Japanese company setting up its own UK factory at Swindon.

Rover 800 1986-9/Honda Legend 1986-8
These executive cars were unusual for being the progeny of an engineering collaboration between Rover and Honda, the two sharing inner bodywork, suspensions and some drivetrains while presenting unique body and interior designs. Plant Oxford not only built the Rover 800 but for a short period, the sister Honda Legend model too. The 800 was also part of a major export initiative to the US in the mid ‘80s, under the Sterling brand name. This much deeper collaboration furthered a fruitful period in which Japanese just-in-time and continuous improvement techniques were introduced to the plant, eventually leading to significant gains in vehicle build quality.

Rover 75 1999-2000
The first and only Rover wholly developed under BMW ownership, the elegantly styled 75 saw a wholesale improvement in both quality and dynamic standards for the brand. Production transferred to Longbridge, Birmingham, after BMW sold Rover in 2000 and ended prematurely in 2005, although variations of the model live on in China as Roewes and MGs.

MINI 2001-06
The all-new MINI recalibrated the Mini as a larger, vastly more sophisticated premium supermini in an evolution that defined a new market, just as the original car did. Widely praised for styling that honoured its predecessor with contemporary and hugely appealing flair, it also won plaudits for its handling, imaginative interior design and build quality. The MINI also introduced personalisation on a scale never before seen in a small car, firing the gun on a trend now widely copied. It exceeded its sales targets from the start – unlike the classic Mini – and was joined by a Convertible in 2002.

MINI 2006 to date
The next generation MINI hatch further refined the 2001 concept with more space, more sophistication, more advanced engines – now mainly UK-built – more equipment and more choice. This was expanded considerably by the introduction of the Clubman estate in 2007, the Coupé and Roadster in 2012 and the Clubvan in the same year. A renewed version of the highly popular Convertible appeared in 2007.

 


National Geographic Megafactories: Plant Oxford and the MINI Coupé

National Geographic Megafactories: Plant Oxford and the MINI Coupé
National Geographic UK’s Megafactories Series 5, which has covered Guinness, the Boeing 747, the Swiss Army Knife, and others, turned its cameras on MINI.  Shown in this episode is the plan and operation of MINI Plant Oxford by following the production of the new MINI Coupé through body in white, paint, and assembly.  Plant managers discuss the challenges of building a MINI every 68 seconds while adjusting to the new Coupé model.

An interesting side story is told where rejected MINIs are sent to a separate part of the plant to be turned into MINI CHALLENGE racecars.  Some MINI CHALLENGE racing in Anglesey, Wales is shown.

The program shows the production of the 2 millionth MINI with an appearance by British Prime Minister David Cameron.  It ends with the launch of the the MINI Coupé at the Frankfurt Motor Show and a brief statement by Anders Warming.


collectible of the day: MINI PRODUCTION @ OXFORD brochure

MINI PRODUCTION @ OXFORD brochure (inside)MINI PRODUCTION @ OXFORD brochure
Many MINI enthusiasts dream about making it to the mecca of MINIdom: Plant Oxford in the UK.

This fold-out brochure from 2005 gives the potential visitor some Key Facts, Directions to Plant Oxford, and A Few House Rules for Visitors.

Plant tours must be pre-booked at:

BMW Group Plant Oxford, Oxford, OX4 6NL
+44 1865 825 842
Oxford.Plant-Tours@mini.com