BMW's new Hams Hall engine plant will start production as planned in January 2001, after a construction period of less than three years.

The BMW Group is investing DM 1 billion (approx £400 million; $US580 million) in the 170,000-square metre plant near Birmingham in the Midlands, creating some 1,500 jobs when production reaches full volume. The new plant will also create numerous jobs in the supply industry and at BMW's existing locations in Berlin, Landshut and Steyr.

A new generation of 1.6 to 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engines will be built in Hams Hall, making the new plant in BMW-speak the ‘competence centre’ for the production of new Valvetronic engines within the group's international plant network.

The innovative Valvetronic technology replaces the throttle butterfly with variable valve control, allowing the engine to breathe more freely and without any throttle losses. The result is an improvement in power and performance and a significant reduction in fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.

Engines from Hams Hall will go to car production plants in Munich, Regensburg and Dingolfing in Germany, Spartanburg in the USA and Rosslyn, South Africa.

Responding to strong demand for BMW cars worldwide, production at the new plant will be boosted significantly within just a few months of the original start-up. In the first year of operation Hams Hall will produce some 60,000 engines, with an annual production capacity of approximately 400,000 units in the years to follow. The plant has advanced production facilities with a high degree of automation providing the foundation for excellent product quality. What BMW calls a ‘highly qualified and motivated workforce as well as flexible working time concepts’ is claimed to guarantee ‘a high standard of productivity’.

The start of production in Hams Hall will allow BMW's Steyr engine plant to further expand diesel engine production.