As has been previously reported on MotoringFile and elsewhere, MINI has publicly stated that they expect to produce about 20,000 fewer MINIs this year due to plant construction. However we’ve heard some interesting news from a reliable source that could suggest that figure is very conservative.

According to the source, the MINI Oxford plant is already 800 cars ahead of the proposed schedule and it’s only three weeks into the year. If that rate keeps up, MINI could be in for another banner year. Further more we’re told that the 2007 MINI is much easier to build due to outsourcing of some component assembly and improved production methods. So when the next generation MINI begins production this September (provding the components arrive on time) the plant could be churning out nearly 60 cars an hour off the production line. One car each minute.

However don’t expect to see any next generation MINIs in the US for the 2006 calendar year. But we’ll have more on that tomorrow.