News : Gen 3 MINI 5-Door Hatch rolls off the line at Oxford

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

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Plant Oxford today saw a production first as the new MINI 5-door Hatch comes off the production line.

The new 5-Door is a first for MINI production at the Oxford plant and marks another phase in the roll-out of a £750 million investment programme across BMW Group UK’s production facilities from 2011 to 2015.

The car comes hot on the heels of the new MINI Hatch, which was launched in November. The new 5-Door, which will go on sale in the autumn, is an significant addition to the family of MINIs made in Oxford and opens up a whole new market segment.

Business Secretary, Vince Cable said: “The launch of the all-new 5-Door MINI is a further boost for the UK’s manufacturing sector, and will help to secure jobs in Oxford and Swindon as part of BMW’s £750 million investment programme in the UK. BMW’s continued commitment and investment in the UK underlines the continuing success story that is UK automotive manufacturing.

“Through the UK Government’s industrial strategy we are backing the auto sector as it goes from strength to strength. We are providing the right environment to give businesses the confidence to invest and create high skilled jobs.”

The 5-Door is the second member of the MINI family to be built on a new platform. The innovative approach to design increases the flexibility of the body manufacturing process, allowing more models of greater variation to be produced more efficiently, an essential element of the MINI’s build-to-order appeal.

Frank Bachmann, Managing Director of MINI Plants Oxford and Swindon, said: “This is an exciting day for us with the first ever 5-Door MINI for the plant, which opens up a whole new market segment for the brand.

“BMW Group has invested in creating state-of-the-art technology and facilities at Oxford and Swindon for the launch of this new generation of MINI, demonstrating the company’s commitment to a long-term future for its UK production sites.”

Preparations for the new generation of MINI have seen the building of a new bodyshop at Oxford and significant investment in facilities and technologies at Plant Swindon, where the car’s body panels are pressed and a number of sub-assemblies made. Plant Oxford’s assembly employees also went through a programme of training to support the launch of the new model generation.

Clive Goldthorp

Clive claims that his interest in the BMC>MG story dates back to his childhood in the 1960s when the family’s garage premises were leased to a tenant with an Austin agency. However, back in the 1920s and 1930s, his grandmother was one of the country’s first female Garage Proprietors so cars probably run in his genes! Admits to affairs with Alfa Romeos, but has more recently owned an 06/06 MG TF 135 and then a 15/64 MG3 Style… Clive, who was AROnline’s News Editor for nearly four years, stood down from that role in order to devote more time to various Motor Racing projects but still contributes articles on as regular basis as his other commitments permit.

19 Comments

  1. So what is Vince doing to help find more land/space in the Cowley area to allow the Mini plant to expand and avoid Mini capacity being developed further in Holland and Mexico?

    • The problem with expansion at Cowley is (and always was) the university. The only available land is to the east of the plant (south of Horsepath Road). That’s owned by the university and they ain’t selling!

  2. Probably not much in the short term, but it’s worth noting that Swindon and Hams Hall are being expanded and will supply the Netherlands, which is purely an assembly plant, so it’s not a complete loss to the UK.

    Besides, it’s almost like Seneffe again!

  3. What a horrific franchise of cars BMW have created! It all started from a retro, pastiche copy of a late 50s car now gradually we have an ever growing and ever more grotesque series of bloated, hugely ugly tosser mobiles that are not only over-priced but made from crappy materials (typical BMW)… The only good thing is that some of them are made in the UK providing jobs etc…

    • To single out BMW is unfair. The new beetle, 500 etc are also bloated versions of their 50’s namesakes. Safety legislation, bigger people, SUV fashion, more clobber have meant that cars have got bigger.
      Many non pastiche cars on the market are dull, few are genuinely interesting; and that has always been the case. MINI has been a great success (despite the downfall of MG Rover) and should be supported.
      Whilst not a fan of the ‘MAXI’ SUV range, the others are good vehicles.

    • No one in Europe or the USA is going to buy a car of the size of the original mini in any numbers. There is little demand for that basic level of transport. Such cars have to be sold at a price that would make UK manufacture uneconomic.

      Oh, I just remembered, the old Mini was uneconomic to manufacture in the UK, even back in the 60’s!!

      The old Mini had two faces:
      1. Minimalist transport
      2. After John Cooper got his hands on it, unique performance and style

      BMW realized that only 2. would make any money and they have done that REALLY WELL.

      That is possibly the hardest part of it all to accept.

  4. I am sure the five-door version will prove to be a huge success story for MINI. Does anyone know whether the first production example of the five-door range will be retained as a MINI ‘heritage’ model, or is it being sold via the dealer network? I don’t know whether BMW Group has the same commitment to retaining first and last examples of each generation of MINI. Perhaps someone can enlighten me on this?

    • I am sure BMW build to order, so if this is the first batch they are probably likely to be showroom models and not for retail sales. I would be very surprised if they did not keep at least the first example.

  5. This is good news and like another once threatened car factory, Halewood, Cowley is going from strength to strength and making cars in Britain that people want to buy.

  6. Great work from BMW, new models creating new jobs for us here in the UK. I often wonder what would have happened if rover had invested in the mini and created a new version? I very much doubt we would have had a new mini in the hands of rover and even if they had they would have probably used the old A series motor again.BMW have moved forward with the new mini into the 21st century and we are very very lucky that they did or we would have no oxford plant, If the new mini was the same size as the original thew would only have sold a few to the old school mini drivers. No one wants to drive such a small car that rusts like the classic mini did and was very unreliable and unsafe.
    Things have changed and for the better.

    • If you look at the various blogs on here, you will read that BMC/BL/ARG always spoke of replacing the Mini, rather than developing and evolving it. The Issigonis 9X, mooted early on as one such replacement, was going down the 3-box hatch look that eventually surfaced from the BL stable in the shape of the Metro, as well as the Renault 5 and others in that particular ‘peer group’.

      I don’t think we would have seen anything like the current MINI on the road, unless BMW had tried to revive it as a pastiche like the VW Beetle and Fiat 500 based on an existing platform rather than a ground-up development

  7. Notice that BMW prefer the term Plant Oxford to Cowley now. I suppose this is to bury any lingering memories of the bad old days.

    • I think it’s pretty much how things are done nowadays, naming things backwards. ‘Dealer Principal’ being another such example…. 🙂

      • Also, I don’t think there’s any of the original Cowley plant left, what they’re in now was originally the Pressed Steel Fisher bodyshell factory

        • BMW have actually built very few new buildings at Cowley. Most of what looks new are actually just clad old buildings. They’ve even pulled down some – the Executive Building (Blue Block), E Block (Body Engineering), R&D Barn, V Building (Rolls Royce bodies).

    • This change in name for the Cowley plant to Plant Oxford actually commenced in 1998 at about the time the Rover 75 was unveiled at the British Motor Show. The Assembly Plant at Longbridge was also given a name change.

  8. @Steve – Ugly T****r mobiles? I assume your as handsome as you are eloquent? Obviously pretty thick when it comes to commerce if you cant understand the concept of making products customers actually want to buy. Of course all the cars that left Cowley before the MINI where hand crafted from the finest materials known to man.

  9. The BMW era has been a massive success, has saved 5000 jobs in Oxford and unlike the old one, which some purists still think should be kept in production, is reliable, pleasant to drive, safe in an accident, well made and quiet at speed. There is no way BMW would have made a Mini with all the faults of the old one and by the nineties the Rover Mini was selling in penny numbers and was woefully out of date.

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