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It’s a Mini boom
8:40am Tuesday 10th July 2012 in News
MINI plant workers in Swindon could soon produce up to four more models of the popular car thanks to a share of a £250m investment.
BMW Group yesterday announced the cash injection for its UK Mini manufacturing operations by the end of 2015, including at its steel body pressings operation in Bridge End Road.
The exact details have yet to be revealed, but Swindon will get a multi-million pound share to improve its facilities, which could see the number of models it produces increase from six to 10, not including special models.
BMW Group says this money is on top of a decision, announced in June 2011, to invest £500m in the UK production network by 2014, which will create additional jobs in Swindon.
And the carmaker is in discussions with Nedcar, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi, to use its plant in the Netherlands, which, depending on where panels for this factory are produced, could result in even more work in Swindon.
BMW Group says as the volume and variety of the model line-up grows, there will be additional production requirements for body panels from Swindon, so part of the new investment is to develop specific production facilities to meet these requirements.
Kimberley Ragousis, communications manager for Swindon, said: “For Swindon it just underlines the job security for our team already at Swindon and obviously it involves a lot of investment in both the facilities and structures of the plant.
“And I think it’s just a positive future for us.”
The Swindon plant employs about 800 workers, who last year produced panels for 191,000 cars. The cars, which use engines produced in Hams Hall, near Birmingham, are assembled in Oxford. All three locations will share in the £250m.
Swindon produces panels for all Minis worldwide, except for the Mini Countryman. Any new models are likely to be based on the Mini Paceman and Mini Rocketman, although these are currently concept vehicles and not a prototype of a series production model.
Mini worker Paul Baker, 45, of Penhill, said: “It will new guarantee the plant, I should imagine, for another 10 years at least. That will nearly see me out and it’s also good for the next generation.”
Heydar Faramarzi, president of Swindon Chamber of Commerce, said: “Any news like that would hopefully have a domino effect so other businesses even outside Swindon will hear about it and realise the potential of Swindon as a town where they can come and generate work, and run a business very successfully.”
Justin Tomlinson, Swindon North MP, said: “This is fantastic news, a real boost to the national and local economy and shows BMW’s determination to invest and support our vital Swindon plant.”
Robert Buckland, Swindon South MP, said: “It means that the plant is safeguarded and enhanced and it’s a huge vote of confidence in the workforce and in the quality of what we’re producing in Swindon.”
Coun Rod Bluh, Swindon Council’s leader, said: “It looks like a vote of confidence from BMW that they’re investing their money in the UK and it looks like Swindon will be a beneficiary of that, with potentially increased jobs in Swindon.”
l Investment is yet another boost for us – Page 13