The new Mini Cabriolet. Photo © 2012 by Don Bain

BMW banking $388 million on British MINI production

German carmaker BMW will invest $388 million over the next three years to boost capacity at the British plants where Minis are built, boosting their total group investments to $2.7 billion since 2000.

The Mini line-up has planned to expand to as many as 10 models and this move emphasizes the trend to reinvest in the not so long ago nearly extinct UK auto industry.

Currently the world's foremost manufacturer of luxury cars, BMW announced the investment today in support of its ambitious plans for international growth of the Mini line, which may expand to as many as 10 different body styles during the next two or three years.

The funds will be poured into an engine plant in Hams Hall in the West Midlands as well as a steel pressing facility in Swindon in southwest England that can produce more motors and body panels than its current output.

Though the investment will maintain 5,500 jobs at BMW's three UK Mini plants, it is not expected to create any new jobs.

"The investment of 250 million pounds in addition to the 500 million last year demonstrates BMW's commitment to the UK and safeguards jobs for the future," UK Business Secretary Vince Cable told Christiaan Hetzner, writing for Reuters.

Notably BMW is not the only manufacturer banking on Merry Old England as General Motors has retained its Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port, even while cutting back on other European sites.

Furthermore, Nissan has reportedly announced plans to fabricate a new model at its Sunderland site, and Honda intends to double its UK productivity this year.

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BMW is also contemplating the manufacture of Minis in other European sites besides England and Graz, Austria, where Mini Countryman models are assembled by third-party automaker Magna Steyr.

"Our preferred option is to establish a contract manufacturer as a satellite production as close to our UK operations as possible, at the Nedcar plant in the Netherlands, with whom BMW is in discussions," Harald Krueger, a member of BMW's management board responsible for the Mini brand, reported.

NedCar is a Netherlands-based subsidiary of Japan's Mitsubishi Motors.

The Mini has been a big success for BMW ever since reviving the brand in 2001, with sales volumes up 21 percent to over 285,000 cars in 2011.

Quite simply that results from the creation of an urban commuter that is stylish, highly efficient and ridiculously easy to park, plus emotionally exhilarating to boot.

Today, a few thousand British workers are awfully glad of that.