With the new two-seater roadster expanding the model range to six, and five new markets to be added during the course of 2012 – India, Nigeria, Armenia, Bolivia and Azerbaijan – BMW’s Mini brand is confident of exceeding last year’s sales record of 285,000.
This growth – up 12% globally in 2011, and 14% in the UK – is stretching production capacity to the limit, however. The Oxford plant which builds five of the six model lines is almost at its maximum of 200,000 cars a year. The remaining model, the Countryman, is made at the Steyr factory in Austria.
Product and planning manager Dave Tuckett is confident more capacity will be found to cater for the growing demand. “I think we will be able to get another 50,000 cars a year out of Oxford, and an increase in production at Steyr,” he said. Facilities at Oxford are currently being extended ready for a redesigned hatchback line in 2013.
Here in the UK, the hatchback is currently the best-selling model, claiming close to half of sales with the larger, family-sized Countryman taking 22%. The popularity of diesel models has also increased dramatically, by 60%, so far this year thanks to the introduction of the new UK tax-beating 99g/km versions during 2011. Diesels now account for 46% of all UK sales.