Dan Cowdry of Los Angeles received an unexpected ‘incentive’ when he ordered a dark silver Mini Cooper S. He put his name down for what was deemed the 500,000th car and was flown to the BMW-owned factory in England to take delivery.

Cowdry received his car on Wednesday from Plant Oxford factory chief Anton Heiss and a local politician.

“It is has been awesome,” said Cowdry. “I had been looking at a number of different cars but just kept coming back to the Mini – I couldn’t believe it when they told me this was the 500,000th car they had made and that I was coming to England to get it.”

He will not be driving it home, however. The Mini Cooper will go through normal export channels and customs clearances to his dealership in LA.

The half million mark came up two years sooner than expected said Heiss. Original plans to build 100,000 cars a year have already been exceeded, Cowley built 175,000 last year alone. Some 75%, or 375,000, of the cars built to date have been exported to 73 countries from the plant, which has 4,500 employees and operates three shifts over a seven-day week to build 600 cars daily.

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The plant recently began building convertible versions and has just started on the mildly revised hatchback versions announced at the same time as the drop-top.

The United States is the largest export market but the UK, where the Mini was launched first in 2001, still accounts for the greatest volume.

“It is getting more difficult to keep up with demand and we are working on how to squeeze a little more production out of the factory,” Heiss added.

Trevor Houghton-Berry, general manager Mini, said the current range was about halfway through its lifecycle and the next generation will continue to be built at Oxford. It is expected that the production capacity of Plant Oxford will be increased to coincide with the new models in about three years’ time.

Houghton-Berry said, “Additional model types will be part of the second generation and these could include a two-seater cabriolet, a retro style Countryman estate and I would love to build a Mini-Moke replacement but we must produce future models which are viable and have some substance.

“I’d prefer to include a sports utility model in the range rather than an MPV but are not writing any future design of model off if it is financially sound to produce it” he added.

Houghton-Berry said the next generation would use a range of new petrol engines designed by BMW with the components manufactured by PSA and the engines assembled at the German car maker’s engine plant at Hams Hall near Birmingham.

No decision had yet been made on whether the next generation range would continue to use Toyota diesel engines.