Here’s an excerpt from Automotive News Europe:
BMW this week will announce an investment of about $280 million in its Oxford, England, factory, allowing for a sharp increase in Mini production.
The expansion sets the stage for the automaker to build new variants of the next-generation Mini, expected late next year.
BMW officials decline to discuss future derivatives, but a sport wagon and roadster have been under study.
The investment will enable BMW to increase Mini capacity to 250,000 to 300,000 units per year. The factory made 189,490 cars in 2004.
The additional capacity will come online in 2007, soon after BMW launches the next-generation Mini on a re-engineered platform that will allow more derivatives.
…Global Insight Analyst Nigel Griffiths predicts the launch of the next generation will occur late next year.
The new platform is designed to accommodate new gasoline engines jointly engineered by a BMW partnership with French carmaker PSA/Peugeot-Citroen SA.
“That’s only a five-year life cycle on the current generation,” Griffiths says. “The new one is going to have the same silhouette, just on widened track and more flexible platform.
“They need it more flexible to make derivatives off and also to make it cheaper.”
You can read the entire article at Automotive News Europe’s sister publication, Autoweek.
MF Analysis: There you have it, as we predicted the R56 will come on line late next year as a 2007 model. And if anyone questions the success of the MINI all you have to do is point them to the fact that BMW expected to make no more than 100,000 cars annually. The thought that production could get close to 300,000 cars a year with this expansion is truly amazing.