By Stewart Smith on 2016-04-26 - Stewart was the former motoring editor of the Coventry Telegraph and is now a freelance contributor to Eurekar. He is based in Scotland and specialises in First Drive reviews.
MINI marks 15 years
THE BMW Group, which is marking its centenary year, is also celebrating 15 years since the first new MINIs rolled off the production line in April, 2001, at its Oxford production plant.
Since then more than 2.5 million MINIs have been produced at the former Rover works at Cowley, with the three million milestone expected to be hit later this year.
Eighty per cent of the cars made there are exported to more than 110 countries around the world.
The 2001 MINI launch was the reinvention of a British motoring icon and sales of the MINI, both in the UK and internationally, have gone from strength to strength over the past 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 creation.
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."
More than 4,500 people are employed at the site in Cowley, which manufactures three and five door MINIs, the MINI Clubman and its first all-wheel drive ALL4 model as well as the high-performance MINI John Cooper Works.
Three UK plants have a part to play in MINI production - Hams Hall near Birmingham makes engines, body pressings and sub-assemblies are made in Swindon and this all comes together at Oxford.
Between 2012 and 2015 BMW Group invested £750 million at the plants, taking investment in UK production to £1.75 billion since 2000.
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