BMW are to give industry in Swindon a welcome boost as production is due to increase with the construction of the new Mini Hatch.
The firm announced yesterday that the Swindon plant would be producing body panels for the new car, which would bring a significant boost to the plant.
Parts will then be shipped to plants in Oxford and Holland for assembly, which will begin in the summer. The firm could not confirm how many new jobs, if any, would be created by the new build.
Harald Krüger, head of production at BMW, said: “The Mini brand is showing substantial growth. This is why we need additional, external production capacity on top of the capacity of the Mini plant in Oxford which stands at about 260,000 units per year in the medium term.
“The UK production network is and will remain the heart of Mini production.”
A spokesman for BMW said: “This is likely to have positive implications for employment in Swindon but it is too early to say to what extent at this stage.
“We need to see the quantity of supply required by Nedcar in Holland and what that will mean for employment. “Preparations are being put in place already, and production will begin from the middle of this year.
“There will be a gradual ramp up and towards the end of the year we will be supplying more pressings from Swindon.
“Altogether we are looking at a five figure number of vehicles being produced during the course of 2014, and the projections beyond will be greater still then that.”
The news comes after the firm announced at the end of last year that 1,000 agency workers at plants in Swindon and Oxford would be made permanent, and is the result of a major investment programme.
£760m is being ploughed into the launch of the new Mini series, along with the development of a three-cylinder engine and an expansion of the Rolls Royce enterprise.
Swindon MPs welcomed the news as a sign of a recovering economy in the town and beyond.
Robert Buckland, South Swindon MP, said: “This is a real vote of confidence for all the team at the Swindon plant who do such great work. Considering the tradition set by the staff and the team there, not only by BMW but those who have gone before, it is great to know that they are being rewarded.
“The Mini is proving to be a popular car, and now has several models in circulation. “It is great to be assured that Swindon is at the heart of production for this industry. Any investment into the plant has got to be good news, as it goes a long way to safeguarding jobs. I thoroughly welcome this announcement.
“I think this is a further sign of the fact the car industry is competitive, and is working extremely well as a sign of meaningful recovery, in the sense that it is bringing in more manufacturing and exports, which is essential to a sustainable economy.
“We can take this as a boost to local jobs and trade generally.”
Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon, added: “This is the latest positive announcement from the BMW plant which has resulted in a number of new jobs and provided a significant boost to our local economy.
“We will continue to support their work as they are a very important part of our local economic mix.
“Swindon has seen a 30 per cent fall in unemployment over the last few years, and businesses are continuing to invest in and relocate to Swindon because of our diverse and skilled work force, relatively affordable housing, and a council that is receptive to working with businesses.
“That all makes it more attractive for businesses looking to invest. It is a win win for everybody.”