26th April 2001 marked the moment the first new MINI cars rolled off the production line at the BMW Group’s Plant Oxford. The past 15 years have seen over 2.5 million MINIs produced, and the brand is expecting to hit the 3 million mark later on this year.
MINI owner, the BMW Group, acquired the plant 22 years ago in 1994, but didn’t start making MINIs until 2001, when the brand was relaunched and the new MINI Hatch debuted. The plant now exports 80% of its cars abroad, covering more than 110 countries around the globe.
Frank Bachmann, MINI Plant Oxford’s Managing Director, 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 classic Mini was built in Oxford too, from 1959 until 1968, with the plant stretching back as far as 1913, when William Morris - known later as Lord Nuffield - produced the first ‘Bullnose’ Morris near the site of the current facility.
The reinvention of this British motoring icon went down swimmingly well in 2001, with the MINI Hatch being presented with numerous awards, including being voted as the Auto Express ‘Car of the Year’.
None of this could have been achieved without the 4,500 staff members at the site in Cowley who work to manufacture three and five-door MINIs, the MINI Clubman - with four-wheel drive ALL4 - and the high-performance MINI John Cooper Works. Engines are made at the Hams Hall plant near Birmingham, the brand’s Swindon facility produces body pressings and sub-assemblies, and Oxford is responsible for body shell production, paint and final assembly.
The BMW Group invested £750 million into the plants from 2012 to 2015, adding 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, all at the Oxford site.
Explore the whole range produced in Oxford right here, and contact Lancaster MINI Milton Keynes to arrange a test drive in the modern MINI that takes your fancy.