THIS week, Plant Oxford celebrates 15 years since the first new BMW Mini rolled off the production line in April, 2001.
The BMW Group, which is marking its centenary year in 2016, acquired the Cowley-based 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 – the three million milestone expected to be hit later this year – with 80 per cent of the cars made here 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. In its first year nearly 40,000 Mini were sold worldwide and 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, MD 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 Mini production facility. The classic Mini was produced at Oxford from 1959 until 1968 with a peak output of 94,889 cars during 1966 and 1967.
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 Clubman, its first all-wheel drive All4 model and the John Cooper Works.
The first Minis – which were registered with ‘Y’ prefixed number plates – are now considered by many enthusiasts to be modern classics.
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