On the day of MINI's UK public debut at the British International Motor Show, a BMW Director has stressed the importance of the new car to British manufacturing.

"At a time when there are questions hanging over the future of some car manufacturing operations in the UK, the investment in plant and jobs at the state-of-the-art Oxford factory are a shot in the arm for the UK car industry," explained Dr Norbert Reithofer, BMW Board Member for Production.

"MINI will be one of only very few major producers to export cars built in Britain to all major markets in the world.

"The public can and should be very proud of a British product which has already been received so enthusiastically in markets as diverse as Japan, North America and Europe.

"MINI is good for Britain … and Britain is good for MINI," he said.

The BMW Group's investment in Oxford already amounts to £290 million and a further £230 million has been committed between now and next summer when production of MINI begins.

"MINI is MINI, not BMW. It is a separate brand," said Reithofer. "However, this investment will ensure that MINI is built to BMW quality standards. Oxford, like Regensburg, South Africa, Spartanburg in the USA and all BMW plants, represents one global quality standard. MINI will uphold this top quality benchmark," he said.

Reithofer explained that MINI plays a pivotal role in the BMW Group's premium brand strategy. At the very pinnacle of the automobile market an all-new Rolls-Royce will enter production in 2003 at a dedicated factory intended to be built in Goodwood, West Sussex. Between MINI and Rolls-Royce lies the BMW brand which covers the premium sectors of all the major car market segments.

The Rolls-Royce manufacturing plant and head office will be a centre of excellence and craftsmanship which will attract a further 350 jobs. In addition, a greenfield engine plant will open at Hams Hall, Warwickshire in early 2001 to supply an advanced range of petrol engines for BMW Group products. Hams Hall will employ a further 1,000 people.

"The BMW Group has made considerable investments in and commitments to the United Kingdom manufacturing base," explained Reithofer. "Britain plays an important role in securing our future success and we are proud of both our existing plants and our planned ventures here."

The BMW Group achieved record sales in the first nine months of the year. At 620,000 units this was a worldwide increase of nine per cent and the Company predicts an all time record of over 800,000 for the full year of 2001.