MINI Plant Oxford is celebrating 15 years of MINI production since the first new MINIs were produced at the plant on 26th April 2001.
The plant was acquired by the BMW group in 1994 and was relaunched in 2001 for the production of the new MINI Hatch. Since the relaunch, more than 2.5 million MINI's have been produced at the plant and the three million milestone is looming closer. Around 80% of cars produced in Plant Oxford are exported to over 110 countries around the world.
The debut of the 2001 MINI Hatch was a reinvention of the British motoring legend and created headlines across the globe. The car was widely recognised with several industry awards after its release, including the 'Car of the Year' accolade in 2001 from Auto Express, who commented on the car's impressive driving abilities, quality levels and safety features and commended the distinctive "unmistakable" presence of the classic MINI DNA.
In the first year, sales of the MINI Hatch reached 40,000 worldwide and went from strength to strength, selling 340,000 in 2015, and 63,000 of these were sold to UK customers, which is the highest since the relaunch.
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 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 has an automotive history that can be traced back to 1913, when philanthropist William Morris produced the 'Bullnose' Morris near today's facility. The classic MINI was also produced at the Oxford plant from 1959 until 1968, reaching its peak in 1966 - 67 by producing 94,889 cars.
The MINI Plant Oxford employs over 4,500 people today and manufactures approximately 1,000 cars a day, including the MINI Clubman, three and five door MINIs and the all-wheel drive All4 model - as well as the high-performance range of MINI John Cooper Works.
The Oxford Plant is the final stop in the production line of MINIs in the UK, as the Hams Hall Plant is responsible for manufacturing the engine, then the Swindon Plant produces body pressings and sub-assemblies, before shipping to Oxford for body shell production, paint and final assembly.
The Plant has a state-of-the-art paintshop, new final assembly area, high-technology body building facility, new logistics centre, Quality and Engineering Centre and the MINIcademy, all thanks to BMW Group investment in UK production. The MINIcademy is where the plant's apprentices are trained.
Joining Technician Chris Wherritt started his career at the plant as an apprentice in 2001 and comments: "Starting my apprenticeship straight from school was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. After all, 2001 was a big year for the plant - I knew it would be a big change but I wasn't aware at the time just how successful the new MINI was going to be. I already had a position secured for after my apprenticeship when the 2001 MINI rolled off the production line, and the launch was all over the news - that's when I knew both the MINI and I had a bright future ahead of us."
Helen Evans, first year engineering apprentice, said: "I've always been fascinated by cars and so seeing MINI's transformation while still paying homage to the original has been really interesting. It's been a great experience working at the plant so far and I'm really excited to see how my career with MINI will evolve in the future."