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.
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.