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Get ready for the Dutch Mini

Production clog: BMW is in talks with Dutch car assembler Nedcar as it looks to expand production to accommodate new models such as the Paceman.

Mini set to outgrow its UK plants and spread to Holland as range expands to 10

9 Jul 2012

BMW has earmarked another £250 million ($A380 million) to expand its Mini production facilities in Britain over the next three years as it gears up to grow the Mini line-up from six models to 10.

However, at least some of the extra Mini volume is likely to be built across the North Sea, in the Netherlands, by the Mitsubishi-owned Nedcar assembly plant.

Announcing the investment today, BMW Group board member for Mini and Rolls-Royce Harold Krueger said BMW was in discussions with Nedcar to set up a satellite Mini production site in Holland, with Mini’s British plants supplying parts and expertise.

“Our preferred option is to establish a contract manufacturer as a satellite production as close to our UK operations as possible, at the Nedcar plant in the Netherlands, with whom BMW is in discussions,” said Mr Krueger.

“Oxford (Mini’s main UK factory) will provide special Mini production expertise for any new operation, particularly in the areas of dealing with the high complexity and customer individuality which Mini demands, and in operating state-of-the-art, multi-model production lines.

“Just as Munich is the centre of the BMW world, Oxford is and will remain the home and the heart of Mini.” Nedcar currently builds only the Mitsubishi Colt and Outlander for European consumption, but previously built Volvos.

 center imageFrom top: Mini production in Oxford, England Mini Clubvan.

Its production facilities are said to be woefully under-used, and the company’s president Joost Govaarts is on public record as saying he is investigating third-party work.

The latest funding will be spread across three UK Mini factories, and comes on top of a £500 million ($A760 million) expansion of Mini production capability announced last year.

The move is set to pave the way for the production of models such as the 2013 Mini Paceman – a three-door version of the Countryman SUV – and perhaps the Clubvan panel van that was shown in concept form at the Geneva motor show in March.

The current line-up comprises Mini Hatch, Cabrio, Clubman, Countryman, Coupe and Roadster.

Mr Krueger said Mini had doubled its global sales in the past 10 years, and had “every intention to continue this growth”.

“We aim to expand our Mini family from six current models to ten,” he said “And we are in the fortunate position of having more ideas for Mini than we can currently realise.” Mr Krueger said BMW had big plans for Mini and needed to expand production facilities to handle greater volumes as well as more models.

Mini’s diverse range is already sold in 100 countries. In the first half this year, Mini sold 151,000 vehicles globally, up 7.0 per cent on last year.

The latest investment will mean greater job security for 5500 Mini workers at its main manufacturing plant in Oxford, steel body pressings operation at Swindon and engine plant at Hams Hall, near Birmingham.

The Mini Paceman SUV, with Range Rover Evoque-like styling, will go into production later this year ahead of its Australian debut in 2013.

Unveiled at the Detroit motor show in January, the Paceman was described by BMW as the first sports activity coupe in the small-car segment.

The Clubvan load-lugger, however, is less likely to make it into Australian showrooms, as BMW Australia said it would struggle to find a viable market.

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