With the Mini brand under the BMW Group ownership since 1994 and their own first generation of the MINI going on sale in July 2001, the brand has become a huge sales success worldwide.
The original Mini, launched in 1959 as a cheap family car, used lowercase letters for its model name and 5.3 million were sold until it ceased production in 2000. Under BMW’s ownership the new MINI brand name was re-born as a ‘premium’ range using uppercase letters in keeping with the parent company’s BMW branding.
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Earlier this month the millionth BMW built MINI came off the production lines at Plant Oxford and in March MINI UK saw its largest ever monthly sales record since the car went on the market in July 2001.
March 2007 new registration plate sales in the UK were 7,869 vehicles and year to date 11,568 new MINIs have been sold in the UK, an increase of 16 per cent over the same period of 2006.
With annual production at Oxford likely to reach 240,000 vehicles next year, with an extra 450 jobs created, the British built MINI is sold in 80 countries around the world with the UK still being the number one market with around 45,000 annual sales.
The USA is second with 42,000 annual sales and Germany third with 30,000 customers each year. Almost 80 per cent of MINIs, which are all built in Britain to individual customer orders, are currently produced for export.
In November 2006 the second generation of the BMW Group owned MINI went on sale with just two initial models available, the 1.6-litre MINI Cooper and the 1.6-litre turbocharged MINI Cooper S.
These use the new generation of petrol engines which along with the new 1.4-litre unit, are assembled at BMW’s Hams Hall factory near Birmingham.
All the petrol and diesel engines for the MINI range come from the BMW and PSA Peugeot-Citroen and Ford engine alliance.
As from Saturday 14 April the second generation MINI range sees two additional models added to it, the frugal Mini One with a 1.4-litre petrol engine and the MINI Cooper D diesel, priced from £11,610 and £14,175 respectively.
The popular extra cost option packs, Salt, Pepper and Chili, continue but the exact availability depends on what core new MINI model is chosen. These prices add between £370 and £1,995 to the retail cost of the car.
The very popular MINI tlc service pack for five years/50,000 at a one-off price of £150 is retained with the option to increase this for a further three years/30,000 costing £380.
The MINI Convertible, based on BMW’s first generation MINI, remains on sale but with additional model derivatives, including the recently added Sidewalk variants.
These include MINI One, Cooper and Cooper S engines. Prices range from £13,615 up to £20,250. A new Convertible based on the second generation MINI is still two years away from being introduced.
A MINI Clubman model, estate type with twin rear doors, is scheduled for introduction in the last quarter of this year with an engine line-up mirroring the MINI hatchbacks.
This year MINI production at Oxford will be 79 per cent hatchbacks and 21 per cent Convertibles and Clubman models.
The Cooper specification is expected to account for 34.5 per cent of sales, the latest MINI One 22.5 per cent, the Cooper S 17 per cent and the Cooper D 5 per cent.
However with the turbodiesel model having low exhaust emissions at 118g/km, below the 120g/km proposed congestion charge levels, MINI UK expect demand for the diesel derivative to substantially increase especially once the automatic transmission option is introduced later this year.