After finding a decade-long success with its Mini Cooper, BMW – Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (FRA:BMW) (ETR:BMW) – is now ready to expand its sporty car.
On Monday, the company announced it will invest an additional $387 million in its three UK Mini factories. This will give job security for the 5,500 Mini plant employees.
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According to the Guardian, the money will go to manufacturing operations by the end of 2015 which includes its Oxford plant, the steel body pressings operation at Swindon and the Hams Hall engineering plant.
In addition, the company announced more production growth for possibly 10 different Mini models with the potential for expanded capacity at its Oxford location.
Just one year ago, the company made another announcement for large investment in the U.K. and the Mini.
In response to Monday’s news, Harald Krueger, member of the board of management at BMW Group, said, “A year ago we announced a further investment of £500m in our UK production network by 2014 and today we are announcing an additional £250m, taking us through to 2015. This brings the total to £1.75bn since 2000.
“Over the last 11 years, Mini has been a unique global success and the BMW Group has even greater plans for the future development of the brand.
“Plant Oxford has played a major role in this with cars being exported to over 100 countries around the world. This additional investment is great news for all our employees in the UK and shows the BMW Group’s commitment to Britain as a vital manufacturing base for us.”
So why all the investment now other than the success of the car? It’s about the competition.
In a Forbes article by Micheline Maynard, she writes that it comes as a response to Mercedes-Benz’ effort to grow its line, notably on the lower end where most of the demand is coming for premium cars. Mini sales help BMW in its attempts to be the premium carmaker worldwide.
From the Mini’s success, it is now sold globally across a wealth of countries around the world. It has evolved from its original two-door model to six unique ones. And it sounds like more is on the way.
The timing seems interesting given the concerns for Europe and its automobile market. But BMW seems confident in their expansion as well as making 5,500 employees happy.
And as noted by Maynard, BMW board member Harald Krueger did emphasize that BMW wants to keep the Mini’s identity British. He said, “Just as Munich is the center of the BMW world, Oxford is and will remain the home and the heart of Mini.”
Now that’s some good news for the U.K. after a rough couple of weeks.