Well, let’s recover in the context of this April 2001, and acknowledge that under this festive atmosphere, there was a strong tension in the air. BMW, owner of Mini since 1994, has invested heavily in this new generation and in the restructuring of the Oxford plant, which oversees its production. And the German brand believes in its success.
But there is a problem: the success of the new Mini depends on the welcome it will receive in its own country. And recently, Great Britain is no longer really friends with BMW, which has gotten rid of the 3 sister brands of Mini the year before. Land-Rover had been sold to Ford, Mini remained in the German fold, and the first idea was to put the MG and Rover brands to sleep. Faced with the general outcry that followed this announcement, BMW finally had to decide to sell these 2 brands to the Phoenix consortium for 10 symbolic pounds sterling. Finally, reselling is a somewhat overused word, since, under media pressure, BMW also had to commit to pay the new owner tens of millions of pounds sterling for the restructuring of MG-Rover, which will still go bankrupt 5 years later.
MW therefore has bad press with this MG-Rover case and is therefore under pressure when the “New Mini” was launched in 2001. And no one can predict whether it will be a success or whether it will fail. Fifteen years later, we have the answer, since with about 3,500,000 Mini manufactured, we cannot say that it is a failure! And Mini in 2015, 338,466 copies sold in 110 countries.
And how can we talk about the new Mini without talking about the Oxford plant? It is the oldest factory in Britain, and the third oldest in the world! Created by Morris in 1913, it is the company that, as purchases and changes of ownership occur, manufactures many Mini cars. It currently employs 4,500 people (2,400 in 2001) and takes out 1,000 vehicles a day. Thus, of the 3,500,000 new Minis manufactured since 2001, Oxford is “responsible” for more than 2,500,000. The others are built in Austria, the Netherlands or India. Below, some pictures of the contemporary factory, which obviously has nothing to do with the one of 1913!
The Mini is being installed in 2013, in the former Oxford factory building, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary.