BMW's long-underutilised Hams Hall engine plant near Birmingham, UK, is beginning to realise its potential as BMW's global centre for four-cylinder petrol engines.

According to Automotive News Europe, the plant is adding production of engines for the 1 series this year and will produce engines for the next generation Mini.

Hams Hall has capacity for 400,000 engines, but last year made only 124,500, entirely for the 3 series.

With the introduction of 1 series, production at Hams Hall will go up to 140,000 this year and 200,000 in 2005. The 1 series will be introduced in Europe on September 18.

BMW and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen are jointly developing a four-cylinder engine. The Mini version will be assembled at Hams Hall from components made in France, a BMW spokesman said.
That engine will replace the four-cylinder engine now used in the Mini, which is imported from the Tritec joint venture plant in Curitiba, Brazil.

PSA will make its version at Douvrin, France. It will be offered in the Citroen Berlingo, C2, C3, Pluriel and C4, as well as the Peugeot 1007, 207, 307 and a 307-based minivan.

Hams Hall was completed in February 2001, shortly after BMW sold the money-losing Rover Group. It was designed to make all four-cylinder engines for BMWs and Rovers.

With Rover gone, BMW had to rethink its engine-sourcing strategy. Making four-cylinder petrol engines for the 3 Series alone was not enough to keep the plant going.

The next generation Mini will also likely get a PSA diesel engine to replace the Toyota diesel now being imported from Japan.