26 August 2004

BMW’s Mini factory in Oxford will build its 500,000th car this week – well ahead of schedule, as the company enjoys booming sales around the world. The half-a-million milestone was expected to pass yesterday, when a US-spec supercharged Cooper S rolls off the production line.

When sales of the ‘new’ BMW-engineered Mini began in July 2001, production was set at 100,000 cars a year – but that has leapt to 174,000 annually. Sales have been boosted by the arrival of the Convertible (right); further body variants will expand the range.

Three-quarters of Cowley production is exported to 73 countries around the world, raising £11bn a year for UK plc’s balance of payments.

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