Booming sales of the new Mini and continued success of Peugeot's 206...
Booming sales of the new Mini and continued success of Peugeot's 206 series are helping put some much needed cheer back into the motor manufacturing industry in Britain after the body blow of the plant closures that hit Luton and Dagenham earlier this year.
With the 100,000th Mini due to roll off the production line in Oxford later this month owners BMW are planning to inject a further GBP 50m ($75) into the British plant in order to increase production and productivity. The Mini's success is expected to underpin a strong performance by the Munich headquartered firm when it announces first quarter results later today.
Peugeot Citroen is meanwhile seeking to boost production of its top selling 206 hatchback and a new roomier version by introducing a fourth shift at its Ryton plant, near Coventry. The move, which could create up to seven hundred jobs, follows the company's recent decision to base production of the new 206SW model at Ryton in preference to plants in France, Brazil and Argentina.
The expansion moves have been welcomed by motor industry unions still seething over the ?unwarranted? closure of General Motors' Vauxhall plant in Luton and the ending of car production at Ford's Dagenham factory.
But Tony Woodley, the T&G's chief negotiator for the industry, warned yesterday that cautious optimism about a renaissance in car production in Britain should not obscure the problems of the UK truck and components industry where workers were being hit by plant closures and the shift of production to lower cost eastern European factories.
BMW, which has invested two hundred and thirty million pounds in Oxford since its controversial disposal of Rover, says that the investment will be pumped into a new production facility for the soon to be launched Mini Cooper S, a new paint shop and a new quality and engineering centre that includes cold climate chambers and laboratories for reliability testing. The new souped up version of the Mini is due to go on sale in the United Kingdom next month.
BMW says it has been astonished by the Mini's success since volume production began in April 2001. Employment in the Oxford plant has increased to four and a half thousand to cope with demand.
The company says people have been camping outside showrooms in the US for a test drive while some showrooms in Japan have had to close their doors because of the large numbers wanting to see the car.