BMW will create an extra 450 jobs to meet demand for the UK-built MINI as production is stepped up to 240,000 cars a year from 2008.


The jobs are spread across the three plants that make up the so-called ‘Mini production triangle’ – the Oxford assembly plant (once a British Leyland plant), the Swindon pressing facility where body panels are produced (the former Pressed Steel facility) and the Hams Hall, Warwickshire, engine plant that also makes BMW’s I4 petrol engines.


The extra jobs will bring total employment to 6,800 with at least an extra 750 jobs being created by the three suppliers of the front end, cockpit and seat modules.


Each has operations within an hour of Oxford and collectively have invested over GBP40m to meet demand for the new Mini. It also means that now about 60% of the components for the redesigned Mini come from suppliers based in the UK compared to just 40% for the previous model (which continues on in convertible form for a year or two yet).


Flexible shift patterns, introduced when Mini production began in 2001, have been fine tuned. The plant is now working up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are two long shifts Monday to Thursday and a permanent Friday-Sunday shift. There are no production shifts on Saturday night or daytime Sunday so maintenance work can be carried out.


Mini production hit a record 200,000 in 2005 and dropped to 184,000 last year with the introduction of the redesigned hatchback models.