Mini models based on a new-generation front-drive platform will be built in Britain after BMW announced £500m of investment at Oxford.
Mini still hasn’t officially confirmed that the next-gen hatchback Mini will be built in Oxford, but well-placed sources indicate that it will. And BMW boss Norbert Reithofer said up to 10 Mini variants will be built off the new UKL1 platform, which will also underpin a range of front-drive BMWs.
The distinction between the new and current platform is important because the Mini range is expanding to eight models. Three new models — coupe, roadster and city-Mini — will be based on the current platform and built at Oxford.
Because the Mini’s front-drive platform will be shared with a new BMW hatch, fears had surfaced that Mini models on the new platform might make more sense to be built in Germany.
However, BMW has confirmed that the bulk of the £500m will be allocated to a new body-in-white facility at Oxford to assemble models on the new platform, a strong indication that the new Mini hatch will be built at Oxford.
Some of the investment will be allocated to the Swindon pressing plant and Hams Hall, where it will buy new component machining facilities.
It’s widely expected that there could eventually be up to 20 individual BMW and Mini-badged models, including small roadsters, built off the UKL1.
The platform will use MacPherson struts up front and BMW’s signature Z-axle at the rear. Four-wheel drive will also be offered, opening the way for a small BMW SUV slightly larger than today’s Mini Countryman.