The all new MINI Countryman has begun production in Germany. As part of MINI’s global production strategy, both the EV and ICE (internal combustion engine) MINI Countryman will be produced alongside BMWs at the BMW Group Plant Leipzig. It’s a move that signifies both a historic first for the brand and a big achievement for BMW.
For the first time in history, a MINI model is rolling off the production line within the confines of Germany, nestled alongside the BMW 1 Series and 2 Series. This feat has been made possible through the plant’s adaptability and developmental prowess, underpinned by substantial investments amounting to €700 million over the past five years. The plant is poised to boost its workforce in production by over 900 individuals by the close of 2024. Perhaps most interesting to MINI fans, the new Countryman stands as a catalyst this change as it’s pushing the plant to be even more eco-friendly in manufacturing.
This seamless integration and production diversity made feasible by the flexible structures at Plant Leipzig are the result of the major investment over the past few years. The MINI Countryman now joins the assembly line, sharing the stage with the BMW 1 Series, BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé, and BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. Thanks to its versatile assembly capabilities, Plant Leipzig can cater to two distinct brands featuring three different powertrains: combustion, plug-in hybrid, and fully electric. The third-generation MINI Countryman, slated for release on February 17, 2024, offers the choice of petrol, diesel, or a fully electric powertrain. Notably, the high-voltage batteries for the MINI Countryman Electric are locally crafted in Leipzig.
Investments have augmented production capacity, with the BMW Group injecting approximately €500 million into Leipzig to accommodate the demand for new models. Notably, the plant has transitioned to meet MINI-specific requirements, representing an additional investment of about €200 million.
Initially, around 100 MINI Countryman vehicles will be built daily from the production lines, with plans to escalate this figure to 500 per day in the coming year.
The transformation of Plant Leipzig into an electrified hub is a defining milestone for BMW. As Petra Peterhänsel, Plant Director, joyfully exclaimed, “Leipzig remains electric.” Leipzig was the original home for the BMW i3 and i8 models and was the brand’s first plant , the plant is gearing up to produce its next fully electric vehicle, the MINI Countryman Electric, commencing in 2024. In addition, starting next year, the plant will oversee the entire production process for BMW’s fifth generation of high-voltage batteries. This move includes cell coating, module production, and battery assembly. The capacity for e-component production has seen substantial growth, which makes Leipzig a crucial supplier across the BMW production network.
The Sustainability of the New MINI Countryman
Sustainability is a central focus of the MINI Countryman Electric, underscoring the MINI brand’s commitment to full electrification by 2030. The design prioritizes environmental consciousness, with chrome eliminated from both the interior and exterior, and light-metal alloy wheels produced from up to 70 percent secondary aluminum. The interior boasts innovative, environmentally friendly materials, including recycled textiles for the dashboard, door facias, floor covering, and foot mats. These materials reduce CO2 emissions and water usage throughout their lifecycle, providing a more sustainable alternative to conventional materials.
One of the striking design features of the MINI exterior is the contrast roof, which can be ordered in a different colour from the rest of the body. In the new MINI Countryman it will be painted using a new, resource-friendly method known as overspray-free painting. The innovative overspray-free painting method reduces excess as well as cutting CO2 emissions. An efficient burner technology, capable of running on hydrogen and natural gas, has been implemented in the paint drying process. These advancements underscore Plant Leipzig’s unwavering commitment to sustainability, with a focus on energy generation and consumption strategies that span back to its inception.
“Sustainability is in the DNA of BMW Group Plant Leipzig,” emphasized Petra Peterhänsel, citing the four wind turbines generating electricity for the plant and a battery storage farm, powered by second-life high-voltage batteries from BMW i3 vehicles. The plant is also forging ahead with plans to replace fossil fuels with green hydrogen, positioning itself as one of the most sustainable manufacturing plants in the world. The construction of a regional hydrogen grid is already in the works, with Plant Leipzig poised to play a pivotal role in the transition towards sustainable energy sources.