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September 3, 2009

UK: BMW says Mini jobs boost talk “premature”

Talk of 1,000 jobs being created at BMW's UK Mini plant in Oxfordshire is premature as no final decisions have been made, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Talk of 1,000 jobs being created at BMW’s UK Mini plant in Oxfordshire is premature as no final decisions have been made, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.

The BBC, citing unnamed sources, reported today that the addition of two new Mini models – the recently announced coupe ‘concept’ and another, still under wraps – which will both be launched at the Frankfurt motor show, would add up to 1,000 jobs at the plant.

BMW chairman Norbert Reithofer, meanwhile, told the Financial Times the two models would add investment and jobs at Oxford but provided no details.

Angela Stangroom said though BMW had confirmed both new Minis would be produced at Oxford, issues such as the number of new jobs had not been finalised as the cars were still at concept stage.

“This suggestion of thousands of jobs is not coming from us,” she said. “It’s just a little premature.” She said she could not see that many jobs being created and added that she was not expecting even details such as on-sale dates for the new models to be announced at the show.

Stangroom noted that the plant, which, at one point was running almost 24/7 but had cut 850 temporary jobs earlier in the year had now “got most of them back”.

“We’re working six days a week again and we’re doing some optional Sunday working so we’re weathering this economic storm.”

She said the announcement of the two new Mini models was “significant” as it meant Oxford would be building five models. “Companies are still investing for beyond the recession and plants are having to look not only at volume and staffing issues but also flexibility.”

Cowley currently employs around 4,000 workers, building three versions of the Mini.

The BBC quoted UK government business secretary Lord Mandelson as saying: “The production of two new Minis is very good news for Oxford, and for the UK car industry.

“It is a demonstration of BMW’s long-term commitment to the UK.”

Graeme Roberts

See also: FRANKFURT PREVIEW: Mini to present ‘Mini Coupe Concept’

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