BMW ‘s MINI unit is adding an extra two weeks to its annual two-week UK factory Christmas shutdown, taking about 9,000 cars out of the schedule.


The move is a slight surprise given that BMW reported a 1.4% sales volume increase to 58,105 units for the third quarter of 2008, despite the forthcoming model change of the convertible while nine-month sales rose 12.1% to 184,915.


A spokesman told just-auto the move was “proactive” as auto industry sales were now clearly falling worldwide but noted the Oxford plant should still end up making the same number of cars this year, or slightly more, than in 2007.


The BMW group has been temporarily closing plants in Bavaria and eastern Germany recently and this week said it was no longer possible to forecast full year results for 2008 in what it described as a “significantly deteriorated” market climate.


Group revenues in the third quarter fell 8.6% to EUR12,588m, pre-tax profit fell 63.5% to EUR279m and profit after tax fell 62.9% to EUR298m.


Nine-month revenues increased marginally to EUR40,425m but pre-tax profit fell 43.3% to EUR1,522m. Group net profit fell 39.7% to EUR1,292m.


BMW said it had already cut 25,000 units from this year’s production schedule and would now add “at least a further 40,000 units”. It said its flexible working-time accounts would allow it room to “breathe”.


This means the UK workers on extended break will not lose pay.


Future product plans are also being eyed and the automaker has confirmed at least one recently-shown concept will not now make production.