BMW’s long-underutilised Hams Hall engine plant near Birmingham, UK, is beginning to realise its potential as BMW’s global centre for four-cylinder petrol engines.

According to Automotive News Europe, the plant is adding production of engines for the 1 series this year and will produce engines for the next generation Mini.

Hams Hall has capacity for 400,000 engines, but last year made only 124,500, entirely for the 3 series.

With the introduction of 1 series, production at Hams Hall will go up to 140,000 this year and 200,000 in 2005. The 1 series will be introduced in Europe on September 18.

BMW and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen are jointly developing a four-cylinder engine. The Mini version will be assembled at Hams Hall from components made in France, a BMW spokesman said.
That engine will replace the four-cylinder engine now used in the Mini, which is imported from the Tritec joint venture plant in Curitiba, Brazil.

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PSA will make its version at Douvrin, France. It will be offered in the Citroen Berlingo, C2, C3, Pluriel and C4, as well as the Peugeot 1007, 207, 307 and a 307-based minivan.

Hams Hall was completed in February 2001, shortly after BMW sold the money-losing Rover Group. It was designed to make all four-cylinder engines for BMWs and Rovers.

With Rover gone, BMW had to rethink its engine-sourcing strategy. Making four-cylinder petrol engines for the 3 Series alone was not enough to keep the plant going.

The next generation Mini will also likely get a PSA diesel engine to replace the Toyota diesel now being imported from Japan.