It’s hard to believe it’s been twenty years since BMW shook up the automotive scene with the Mini brand and the Cooper. Production began in 2001, with body parts being manufactured in Mini Plant Swindon, and the first Mini rolling off the line in Oxford on April 26, 2001. In the two decades since, more than 4,600,000 have followed it, and in 2019, BMW Mini Plant Oxford celebrated production of the 10,000,000th Mini.
Despite slow sales over the past few years which just recently showed a slight uptick both in North America and on a global scale, the Mini brand remains core to the BMW Group’s next-generation electrification strategy. Mini is set to introduce its final internal combustion engine-powered model in 2025, and is slated to transform into an all-electric brand starting in 2030. The brand is also an integral element of BMW’s global footprint, and CEO Oliver Zipse served as head of manufacturing at Plant Oxford from 2007–2008.
“Congratulations to everyone at Mini Plants Oxford and Swindon for reaching such a great manufacturing milestone. I still have very fond memories of my time at Oxford. It was a real pleasure to work at the home and heart of the Mini brand with such engaging and passionate people, nearly one quarter of whom have dedicated these twenty years or more to building our cars,” said Zipse.
At one point in its more than century-long history, Plant Oxford employed a staff of over 30,000, but with today’s advanced and highly-efficient manufacturing operations, just 4,500 highly-skilled employees are responsible for producing up to 1,000 Mini vehicles a day, or one vehicle every 67 seconds.
Peter Weber, managing director of plants Oxford and Swindon said, “I am extremely proud of our teams at Oxford and Swindon and the incredible job they do. Their continued commitment and passion over the past twenty years has helped to strengthen Mini’s reputation around the world.”
The brand may be going electric with the Mini SE, but it’s currently producing its most potent models yet, and the limited-production 2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP is the fastest front-wheel-drive vehicle tested by Car and Driver. Its zero-to-60 time of 4.7 seconds comes courtesy of its 306-horsepower 2.0-liter BMW B48 four-cylinder engine, which is shared with other models like the BMW X2 M35i and M235i Gran Coupé, to name a few.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]