Six years after the start of series production, the one millionth MINI has rolled off the production line at BMW’s Plant Oxford in England.

The milestone event came as Mini UK said it would set its biggest monthly sales record since the car went on sale in July 2001 – preliminary figures indicate 7,854 sales in March. The previous record month was March 2006 with 7,687 sales.

Mini launched its redesigned second-generation 1.6-litre petrol Cooper and Cooper S models in November 2006 and said orders are strong for the new 1.4-litre One and diesel Cooper D on sale from 14 April.

This year will also sees the launch of the new Clubman version – a stretched ‘wagon’ version joining the hatchback and (still first generation) convertible.

The Mini is now sold in 80 world markets and almost 80% are currently exported.

Initial forecasts suggested a market for 100,000 units world-wide per year but eventual sales more than doubled that figure to a record 200,428 units in 2005.

Developments at Plant Oxford (once British Leyland’s Cowley plant and originally built for Morris) have reflected the Mini’s success. In 2001 some 2,400 staff worked single-shift operations to build up to 300 cars a day. Today more than 4,700 work 24/7 to produce as many as 700 cars per day. During the same period maximum production capacity for the plant has risen from 100,000 to over 200,000 units per year, and in the medium term, annual capacity is planned to reach 240,000 units.

BMW has so far invested GBP380m in the plant, taken over from Rover Group in 2000, to increase production capacity and to prepare for the new derivatives.

With the launch of the second generation Mini towards the end of 2006, the ‘Mini production triangle’ was formed as BMW’s UK plants Hams Hall and Swindon (the former Pressed Steel/Leyland body plant) became an integral part of production.

Hams Hall, near Birmingham, supplies petrol engines while Swindon supplies pressings and sub-assemblies to Plant Oxford. Together they bring the total number of Mini production staff in the UK up to 6,800.

The Oxford plant is making increasingly efficient use of natural resources. Since the first full year of production in 2002, energy consumption and CO2 emissions have both gone down by 20%, while water consumption has dropped by more than 30% per unit. In addition, more than 25 different waste materials from production are recycled.

The one millionth car was produced to customer order, like all Minis. In this case the ‘customer’ is BMW Group’s heritage division, Mobile Tradition. The colour of the milestone millionth unit is ‘pepper white’ with a specially-developed paint for the roof, almond green, accentuated by a ‘million’ graphic extending onto the bonnet. The interior matches the roof with leather seats, steering wheel and gear knob in almond green leather.

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