MINI to Outsource Some Manufacturing to VDL in the Netherlands

Last year we reported that BMW was seriously looking at production for MINI outside of both Oxford and Austria. First it was Germany that was considered. Then BMW looked seriously at buying a major part of bankrupt automaker Saab for the production capacity and skilled labor. However that was all just a warm-up act for the final solution. Today the Dutch company VDL announced it had signed a deal to take over Mitsubishi’s sole western European plant and start producing MINIs beginning in the latter half of 2014.

What cars will be produced there? The better question is what will be built in Oxford? The information we’ve be given over the past 12 months has all signs pointing to only the F56 hatch, F55 five door and F54 Clubman being UK based. Beyond that the Countryman will continue to be built in Austria for this generation. But more interestingly MINI is planning on producing variants of the F56 and perhaps the much rumored “Spacebox” (based on BMW’s Active Tourer concept) with VDL in the Netherlands.

Look for this to be made public by BMW soon.

  • nick dawson

    The decision to oursource some future MINI production comes as no surprise. The Oxford plant has recently received large investments from both BMW and the UK Goverment to build the next generation F-series MINI. The ultimate capacity to build cars at that plant is restricted by the physical constraints of the site. 5 door hatches in Europe are generally more popular than 3 door, and the new MINI 5 door Hatch will most likely be MINI’s biggest seller in the range in Europe. (The new Audi A1 5 door sportback, for example, is expected to ousell its 3 door counterpart by 3 to 1). There will be no capacity left to build the forthcoming F58 Traveller, let alone the F59 4 door Sedan, intended for China and other Asian markets, if that gets the go ahead. Some more news has come to light regarding the rumoured nine-speed DCT transmission for the new MINI. Chris Guile, Senior Power Train Analyst at IHS Automotive in London, has said that he can find no evidence that any transmission company is developing a nine-speed DCT for BMW, and that this rumour might be a confusion with the possibility of the new ZF 9HP auto being used in both MINI and BMW front-wheel drive cars. The ZF 9HP48 will go into production next year, and is being developed exclusively for transverse installation in both front-wheel and four-wheel drive applications. ZF is developing then 9HP transmission in response to the popularity of the DCT, and hopes to take back sales lost to the DCT. ZF claims that its new 9HP auto transmission will save 16% fuel consumption, compared to the current six-speed version. A smaller 9HP28 is currently under test in a MINI mule, but a decision to use that transmission has still to be finalized.

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      The 9 speed is the ZF unit, at least the one I have discussed for the last year. There is a DCT that is currently being utilized in some preproduction models with the N37 but that is an 8 speed unit.

      There is also a 9HP38…. which will be made in several locations and be in other FWD cars that are less premium.

      • Blainestang

        In my opinion, the reason that there wasn’t more outcry about MINI building cars in Austria is because they weren’t the Hardtop. If they moved Hardtop production elsewhere, the complaining would be far more significant than building a crossover somewhere else. Also, Austria/Netherlands is different than Mexico, at least in perception.

  • John

    This might be for a whole other article, but how does MINI compensate for the new model change in production? I am sure the change will be different with the F56 but when MINI went from the R53 to R56 they still were producing the R52. With all of the current models all on the same production line will MINI create a whole new one just for the F56?

    • Yes, we expect there will still be R5X-based cars produced along side F5X cars at Oxford it until they are updated. The MINI production line is already set up to build so many different kinds of MINIs (and each with such a myriad of available options) that they’re already optimized for mixed-model production.

      • John

        Very cool, never knew that. I wasn’t sure since you have parts that are the same between the models. Have you seen the National Geographic Episode on the MINI Coupe Production? Great video explaining development and how they added a new model to the factory production.

  • Tjeerd

    The Current Employees Are Fired And Will Be Hired Again When The Production Starts. In The Meantime All Employees Get “WW”, A Sort Of Ensurance Of Income Paid By The Goverment. This Is 70 % Of Your Latest income. The Other 30% Is Going To Be Paid Bij VDL.