BMW’s MINI Oxford plant, celebrating its centenary today (Thursday), might be the oldest BMW plant, but it “holds a special place in the hearts of millions” and will remain at the centre of MINI production in the future, said Frank Bachmann, the plant’s managing director.
He was speaking at an event to mark the centenary and the opening of a permanent visitors’ exhibition. The MINI factory already hosts around 12,000 visitors a year and Bachmann said that he was expected those numbers to continue while the centenary exhibition will “stay for many years”.
At its peak, the Cowley factory employed 28,000 people; today it employs 4,000. “The future of Plant Oxford is a healthy one; we’re conscious of the great history of this plant,” Bachmann told guests including Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, who said that the occasion “was a milestone for the entire British motor industry, not just BMW, MINI and Oxford.
“We’re competing in a global race and this plant shows that we can do it. Manufacturing is essential to Britain today and automotive is at the heart of manufacturing,” he said.
McLoughlin went on to tell guests that low carbon vehicles represented a major global opportunity for UK industry “if we can get it right” adding “we don’t want to squeeze motorists out of cars but squeeze carbon out of motoring.”