BMW to invest £250m in UK to expand Mini production

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Media captionBusiness Secretary Vince Cable: Mini is a "great British success story"

BMW is to invest £250m in its UK factories over the next three years, the company has announced.

The money will be used to increase production of the Mini at its factories in Oxford, Birmingham and Swindon.

It comes on top of a £500m investment which was announced by BMW last June. More than 5000 British workers are involved in the production of the Mini.

BMW said the investment showed its commitment to Britain "as a vital manufacturing base".

"This investment is about securing jobs for the future," BMW's Graham Biggs told the BBC.

"We tend to build cars where we sell them, so the UK is a very important market for us - about the fourth largest in the world - so building Minis, Rolls-Royces and engines here makes a great deal of sense.

BMW said the investment would help its "international growth strategy" for the Mini as it introduced new models to the market.

In January it launched the Mini Roadster, a convertible version of the Mini Coupe, the first two-seater Mini model.

Both new cars are assembled at the main plant at Cowley, Oxford, which has produced more than two million Mini models since 2001.

Production outside UK

As well as extra investment at the Oxford plant, the money will be earmarked for expanding production capabilities at the steel body pressings plant in Swindon and BMW's engine plant at Hams Hall, in the West Midlands.

However, BMW said that because of current capacity constraints at the Oxford plant, it was considering setting up "satellite production" of the Mini outside of the UK in the "medium term".

"We need to look for a flexible partner to help us build the cars and we're considering a contract with a Dutch contract manufacturer," Mr Biggs said.

The carmaker said it was in discussions with Nedcar, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi, to use its plant in Born, in the Netherlands. It will have spare capacity from 2013 following Mitsubishi's decision not to continue production of its Colt model there because of difficult economic conditions.

BMW has said that the Oxford plant will remain "the home and heart" of the Mini and will provide specialist advice on establishing the new facility.

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