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BMW to expand Mini lineup, looks at second assembly plant

Mon, 09 Jul 2012

BMW said it will increase Mini's model lineup to up to 10 vehicles while boosting the brand's production capacity in the U.K. and at a new contract manufacturing site, likely to be in the Netherlands.

BMW will invest $388 million in its U.K. manufacturing operations by the end of 2015 to support its growth strategy for the Mini brand, the company said Monday.

Harald Krueger, BMW's board member with responsibility for Mini, said the automaker's plans for Mini focus on two production locations for the brand, in the U.K. and in the Netherlands.

BMW last month said it is considering building vehicles at Mitsubishi's NedCar plant in the Netherlands where the Japanese automaker is ending production at the end of the year.

On Monday, Krueger said BMW's preferred option to expand Mini is to establish a contract manufacturer as a satellite production as close as possible to Mini's U.K. operations. Nedcar's proximity to the U.K. would offer significant benefits in terms of logistics, Krueger said in a statement.

He said BMW will continue its cooperation with the contract manufacturer Magna Steyr. Magna Steyr builds the Mini Countryman in Graz, Austria.

Mini's global sales volume increased 7 percent to 151,875 in the first half, helped by demand for the new Countryman and growth in the United States and China. The brand sells six variants currently.

BMW's latest U.K. investment will be at Mini's production plant in Oxford, BMW's steel body stamping operation at Swindon and at the company's engine plant at Hams Hall near Birmingham.

By David Jolley- Automotive News Europe