MINI Commits to UK Production While it Quietly Looks to Europe

According to BMW executive Ian Robertson, MINI’s UK production is not in jeopardy. However according to Automotive News Europe, BMW simultaneously stepping up production capacity in its newly contracted production facility in the Netherlands (VDL Nedcar).

Part of this is simply due to MINI demanding increasing worldwide. However it’s also clear that BMW is smartly hedging its bets a bit given the current US and UK political/economic climate.

UK production

Oxford production

According to Automotive News, staffing levels at VDL Nedcar have increased from 4,500 last year to approximately 7,200 today. Capacity has risen dramatically from 89,000 vehicles to just under 200,000 for 2018.

Interestingly MotoringFile will have a first-hand view of the quality from VDL Nedcar as our 2018 MINI Countryman was produced there rather than Oxford. From reader accounts thus far there seems to be no distinguishable difference in quality. However it’s worth noting it often takes years to fully understand the impact production has on quality.

The big question we have is how much (if at all) this matters to the buying public. Does production location of your MINI matter to you? If so, would a European MINI take away from the British heritage enough that you wouldn’t want one?

  • Agro

    That’s not would prevent me from buying another MINI. It’d be a bummer, sure, but that’s the nature of today’s manufacturing world. Nothing is made where it used to be. Even Harley-Davidson is opening a factory in Thailand.

    What would stop me from buying another MINI is that there’s nothing on the lot that I want. If I needed to replace my 2014 Clubman, the closest car they sell is a 4-door hardtop that lists (stripped) at $32k. We just paid 36k for a new Mercedes GLC for my wife.

    MINI has priced and “marketing decisioned” me off their lot, which is sad since I’m what you would certainly call a MINI enthusiast.

    • EM1

      The standard seats suck and hurt my back. The nicer ones are too expensive.

    • Rob

      Forgive me, but a base (classic) cooper 4dr starts at $23,400 with the fully loaded cooper 4dr (iconic) $30,900. And a base (classic) cooper s 4dr starts at $27,400 and fully (iconic) loaded at $34,900. the new MINIs have better equipment, engines and safety than what was available on the ‘14 clubman base or S.

      • Agro

        I’d be replacing a $26k 2014 Clubman S. I wouldn’t be happy without the power of an S. A 4 door S starts at almost $28k. Add in that if I’m spending that kind of money on a car, I don’t want one of the 4 boring colours that are available at that price and I’m basically 31k.

        The better equipment and “premium interior materials” and such, 95% of it I either don’t care or actively don’t want. I want fabric seats because I live in Las Vegas and like the skin on the backs of my legs to stay where it is.

        I loved the rawer feel of my 2003 R53. I fully agree that the engine in the R55 is stronger, and the USB port and bluetooth are great. Everything else that was an upgrade from the 1st gen MINIs I couldn’t care less about.

        It’s not a question of a “better” car, it comes down to taste. For me, MINI has moved a long way away from what drew many of the original customers in 2002-2006. It’s marketing driving the brand. That’s why a large number of the old MINI community that I knew when I was running AMVIV are no longer in MINIs.

        I accept that it’s here to stay and I deeply regret that it’s happened, but it doesn’t change the fact that MINI doesn’t have a car right now that I’d put down the money they want for it.

  • EM1

    I would like it to be English built, but now that the population of England and Netherlands has changed, doesn’t matter anymore. I rather have it Japanese built as they are a hemogenus nation that still cares about it’s citizens.

    • Nick Dawson

      Absolutely agree; in any event all BMW products are built to the same corporate standard irrespective of where in the world they are built.

  • Nick Dawson

    Neither generation of the Countryman has ever been built in the UK – the first in Austria, the second in the Netherlands – and yet the Countryman is MINI USA’s best selling MINI.

    In practice, this has less to do with Brexit and more to do with capacity. Plant Oxford has been working at full capacity for years, which is why the Countryman, and the Convertible exclusively, are built in Plant NedCar, and the Hardtop on an – as and when required – overflow basis.

    The reason for the increase in the workforce at NedCar, is solely because of the decision to build the all-new X1 there, which makes sense because it shares its underpinnings with the Countryman. This decision was made by BMW long before the Brexit referendum.

  • AnthLC

    BMW need to be very careful what they decide to do and I do understand not BMW’s fault UK is exiting the EU.

    I think the UK were silly to leave the EU but in saying that there were valid reasons for Brexit. Other countries such as Italy are thinking the same thing to do.

    But as a Australian Mini owner I won’t accept a non UK manufactured model. They need to still be made in Britain.

    I would dish the brand altogether and buy another make. Any decision to up and leave the UK wouldn’t be seen as a positive thing but very negatively for brands loyalty.

    The Mini relies on its British heritage, for me it is important they still are made in the UK. I am sure a lot of mini owners would agree. I expect manufacturing to continue in the UK.

    I am not saying I would mind if my Mini was made else where, it is more I expect some Mini’s to still be made in Britain.

    I used to buy Holden’s cause Australian built and engineered, but when GM closed Australian manufacturing I had no reason to buy the brand. Which is when I brought the Mini.

    So take care BMW you would lose more Mini customers if you stop production of Mini’s in UK.

    Wait for Brexit to settle both making any decisions on where the Mini is made.

  • AnthLC

    I always see these articles as a way a brand can test “the water” as to how their customers would react to change in where they manufacturer. This why I give a clear indication I would change brands and blame BMW, not Brexit. Mini needs to made in the UK it isn’t negotiable.

    • Nick Dawson

      The Countryman has never been built in the UK, and yet it is MINI USA’s best selling model.

      • AnthLC

        My comment is not a reaction to where models are currently made. My comment is to warn BMW if they accept a “hard” Bexit for the UK and pull manufacturing from the UK by their EU masters. It could be a just as hard on the BMW brand.

        BMW should be putting as much pressure on the EU as they have been on the UK govt. to normalise the exit. Plenty of countries aren’t members of the EU it doesn’t have to be end of the world.

        For me if BMW pull out of the UK I be disgusted with their decision and would keep my current Mini. But buy another brand, altogether.

        I probably be so disenchantised with Europe I buy from Japan or Korea or North America in protest.

        • Nick Dawson

          I couldn’t agree more with you – I was just making the point about Countryman US sales 🙂

        • AnthLC

          I think the countryman is cool, although waiting on the electric mini. I am hopeful commonsense will prevail for both Mini and Brexit.

  • Dani22

    Production location is a big deal to me, when it comes to Mini. It would make me not want another Mini, the British heritage and history of the Mini was a big draw and one of the top reasons I wanted to get a Mini vs. the other cars I was considering. I just ordered my F56 in December of 2017 and I was very worried that mine would not be made in Oxford. And anything Japanese is a big fat no, no matter what brand.

    • Nick Dawson

      2017 was a record year for MINI global sales, with a total of 371,881 vehicles sold. 60% of that total were built in Plant Oxford and 40% in VDL NedCar.

      Plant Oxford is working at maximum capacity, so any further increase in global demand will have to be met by VDL NedCar which still has spare capacity. Nothing to do with Brexit.

  • piebaldgal

    MINIs are already being built in Born, Holland. I ordered my 2016 F56 S and it was built in Born and shipped out of Zeebrugge, Belgium. This MINI is the most reliable and well built of the 4 I’ve owned, so it doesn’t phase me that it wasn’t built in England. So, is the question would someone buy a Countryman that was built in Holland rather than in England?