The all-new Mk3 Mini is set to be built in China, according to City analysts. A recent report on China’s auto industry by Bernstein’s analysts says that the new Mini range and its front-drive BMW sister cars will be made at BMW’s joint-venture Tiexi plant in Shenyang, north-west China, from 2015.
Bernstein quotes local sources as saying that BMW has already allocated space at Tiexi for a big expansion in production, while the new paintshop has much greater capacity than would be needed for current production levels.
Bernstein says that building the new front-wheel-drive family of cars in China is driven by a number of factors. Firstly, demand for the Mini in China leapt massively between 2010 and the end of last year, and the country is now Mini’s fourth largest global market.
Secondly, building the small cars locally makes it easier — in terms of import quotas — for BMW to keep importing its larger and more profitable models into China.
Currently, the various Mini models are built at Oxford and under contract at Magna in Austria. BMW says that it is also going to build Mk3 Minis at the old Nedcar facility in the Netherlands, which is no longer used by Mitsubishi. The addition of Chinese production will probably be aimed at the local market only.
Senior Mini sources have told Autocar that the company expects a “big leap” in demand once the new Mk3 model is launched at the end of the year. The addition of a five-door version of the Mini hatchback is expected to drive much of the extra production.