Mini investment a major boost to Hams Hall
BMW is set to invest around £250m in its three UK factories over the next three years to capitalise on global demand for its popular Mini.
The investment is being split between the main production plant at Cowley, the body panel works in Swindon and the engine plant at Hams Hall.
The move is on top of a £500m investment in the three factories announced by the German company last year.
The factories employ around 5,000 people – 800 of them at Hams Hall – and support thousands more in the supply chain.
BMW announced earlier this month that worldwide sales for the Mini range, which now extends to five models, climbed 3.9% to 32,337 vehicles in June. In the year-to-date sales are up 7% to 151,875 units, which compares with 141,915 in the first six months of 2011.
Demand for the Mini Countryman crossover remained strong with close to 50,000 cars delivered to customers in the first half year, an increase of 23.4% compared to the same period in 2011.
The company also saw “robust growth” in several Asian markets in the first half, including mainland China, where it sold 11,356 cars, an increase of 34.5% (2011: 8,445). The picture was similar in Japan where 8,332 cars were sold during the period, an increase of 32% (2011: 6,312).
Growth is also strong in traditional markets such as the United States, where first half sales were up 7.5% at 32,059 (2011: 29,816).
In the UK, sales rose almost 21% last month to 7,151 cars (2011: 5,917), although in the year-to-date sales are broadly flat in comparison with 2011.
The investment in Hams Hall follows the announcement by BMW last month that the plant is also to produce engines for its latest i8 hybrid petrol-electric supercar.
It was a significant month for the plant as it also saw the production of its three millionth engine.
The unit in question, a 1.6 four-cylinder petrol engine, was despatched to the Mini plant at Oxford, where it was destined for a car being built for the Indian market.
India is now a fast-growing market for Mini after the popular model made its sub-continental debut earlier this year. India marks the Mini’s 100th export market and to distribute the brand, BMW is setting up three exclusive outlets.
Over 80% of Minis produced in the UK are exported and more than 1.6m have been exported since the car was launched in 2001.
Hams Hall has been manufacturing engines for the Mini range since 2006 and of the three million units produced at the plant over a third have been dispatched to the Cowley factory.