Five years have passed since the start-up of production at the BMW engine plant at Hams Hall in January 2001 and the official opening of the manufacturing facility on 8 February 2001. During that time, the West Midlands factory has steadily increased its importance as the company’s centre of competence for the production of four-cylinder petrol engines, having already produced over 680,000 engines for vehicles that are being driven by BMW customers in more than one hundred countries around the world.

The UK plant has expanded its customer base within the company’s international production network with engines currently being supplied to BMW vehicle plants in Germany (Munich, Regensburg, Leipzig), South Africa (Rosslyn) and the USA (Spartanburg) as well as to Austrian-based production partner Magna Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik (Graz). Hams Hall engines power the four-cylinder petrol variants of the BMW 1 Series, 3 Series, Z4 Roadster and X3 models. Total production last year topped just over 180,000 engines with the workforce currently numbering 700 associates. Output in the next few years is set to increase significantly, creating additional employment opportunities, mainly for positions in the direct production areas.

Looking back over the past five years, plant director Harald Krüger had this to say: ‘The successful development of the factory is first and foremost a tribute to our associates who have consistently demonstrated the levels of skill and dedication required to achieve exceptionally high standards of quality, flexibility and productivity in what is a fiercely competitive global industry. We are proud to be making a valuable contribution to the company’s strategy of achieving profitable growth with premium brand products. Hams Hall is an important element in the equation that enabled the BMW Group to post record sales and turnover results in 2005.’

In addition to the original £400 million that was invested to create and launch the Hams Hall plant, the company has continued to re-invest in order to maintain the workforce and facilities at world-class standards and prepare the plant for increased volumes and new products.

In the words of Harald Krüger: ‘Our investment of over £20 million, so far, in comprehensive training and personal development programmes has been the single most important factor in enabling us to establish the plant as a profitable and successful operation with excellent future prospects. Our development programmes ensure that BMW associates here in the West Midlands have the same high level of knowledge, qualifications and skills as their colleagues and counterparts at the BMW engine plants in Germany and Austria. This, together with the tremendous flexibility and commitment to quality demonstrated by the members of our workforce, puts us in a strong position.’

The UK plant’s proven track record over the past five years for product quality, flexibility and productivity has enabled it to win new business, as Harald Kruger explains: ‘I’m delighted to be able to confirm that we are starting to make preparations to produce an additional family of four-cylinder petrol engines for a growing family of future MINI variants that will be built at our vehicle plant in Oxford. Having a second engine to build will add another string to our bow and further strengthen the long-term future of the plant. The opportunity and the responsibility of contributing to the continued success of the MINI brand, one of the great icons of the British car industry, is something that has everyone here really fired up. This development clearly shows that, in the right conditions, and with the right strategies and people in place, manufacturing can not only survive, but thrive in the West Midlands.’