BMW has named a new director for its UK engine assembly plant at Hams Hall, near Birmingham.

Robert Bolam, previously responsible for the UK pressings operations in Swindon (the former Pressed Steel/Rover Group plant that now makes MINI body parts), succeeded Harald Krüger who returned to a senior production division post at the automaker’s Munich HQ.

Bolam has taken charge of a workforce of just over 1,000 staffing an operation that moved to three- shift operations last September, adding 250 new workers in the process.

Hams Hall began making Mini engines in the second half of 2006, replacing bought-in petrol units from a DaimlerChrysler joint venture plant in Brazil and the diesel from Toyota in Japan.

The new engines were developed in a JV with PSA and BMW now builds all its needs in-house, using parts imported from France.

Assembly of four-cylinder petrol engines at Hams Hall from imported components began in January 2001. Together with plants in Munich, Germany, and Steyr, Austria, the West Midlands factory is one of three major engine production operations in BMW Group’s international manufacturing network.

The facility now produces all of the company’s four-cylinder petrol engines for both the BMW and Mini brands.

Last year’s output of just over 217,000 engines set a new annual production record for the plant. The increased pace will continue in 2007 with output anticipated “well above 300,000 units”, BMW said.

New engine models are behind the continuing increases in output. A new 1.4-litre petrol engine is about to go into series production for the Mini One variant that makes its debut at the Geneva motor show in March. Also new: a four-cylinder petrol engine featuring second-generation, high-precision direct injection technology that will power the new three-door and revised five-door versions of the BMW 1 series launching in Geneva next month.

Bolam said: “This is an exciting time to be coming to Hams Hall. The successful development of the plant reflects the record sales results of the BMW group as a whole last year.

“Producing engines for both [BMW and Mini] brands means that we are uniquely placed to contribute to, and profit from, their success in markets around the world.”