Recently our sister site BimmerFile had a chance to talk with BMW Board Member Ian Robertson. One of things that came up was MINI potentially moving limited production out of Oxford and into another BMW plant. Some theorized it could be the Spartanburg plant in South Carolina USA. However our sources have confirmed BMW is considering limited MINI production not in the US but in Germany. And to better insulate against the currency exchange issues as quickly as possible, BMW will likely make change as soon as 2011 with the introduction of the mid life-cycle facelifted models.
The idea is that German built MINIs would be sold in European countries which allows BMW to side-step currency issues as well as save money on shipping costs. In addition the idea of a German built MINI likely plays better on the mainland than it would in the UK.
Internally there are some at MINI that are expecting production to go down in the UK and in parts of Europe for 2011 due to many local governments ending their scrapage schemes (aka cash for clunkers). In additional the VAT will be going back up to 17.5% from 15% in the UK. All this has made MINI increasingly concerned about what to do with production and the workforce at the Oxford plant in 2011. Already the plant is scheduled to be having structured shutdowns as apposed to the usual flexible holidays so that BMW can better control labor costs. However during this time BMW will also be investing in the plant to re-fit certain areas for the upcoming CoupÃ© and Roadster production.
Ultimately BMW expects production numbers to stay close to current levels at the Oxford Plant. So the idea that MINI would be cutting production in the UK to move to Germany isn’t likely. However this allows BMW to further expand the MINI line and production without having to build-out the Oxford Plant in the years ahead.