Friday 13 June 2014

VDL Nedcar ready for Mini Hatch

Production workers at VDL Nedcar’s facility are currently on summer shutdown, but when they return manufacture of the Mini Hatch will begin.

VDL Nedcar in will re-open the factory in Born in mid-July.

A VDL spokesperson said: “Mini production hasn't started just yet. We cannot communicate about production volumes for this year.”

However, it is known that the new Mini Hatch will be built at VDL Nedcar, as well as Plant Oxford in the UK, from the second half of 2014. Production volumes depend on demand from various markets and proportions will be flexible due to product launches and ramp up.

A spokesperson for BMW in the UK said: “In 2014 we will reach a five-digit production number of Mini cars at the VDL Nedcar plant.

Production of the new generation Mini Hatch at Oxford started in March this year. The new Hatch is manufactured in a new body-in-white facility constructed at Plant Oxford as a result of BMW Group’s £750 million UK investment package over the last few years.

The final assembly hall at Plant Oxford handles both the new third-generation model and models built on previous generation platforms, namely Mini Roadster, Convertible and Clubman.

However, officials at Plant Oxford refused to disclose which companies supplied manufacturing equipment for the new body-in-white shop, particularly the framing line and robots.

In February this year, the VDL Group and BMW Group jointly announced (as reported here) that the model to be built in Born starting summer 2014 would be the new Mini Hatch.

Harald Krüger and Klaus Draeger, BMW Group board members from Munich, visited the plant. They were given a tour of the completely redesigned car manufacturing plant with its automated production lines (below).

VDL Group president Wim van der Leegte said then that he was pleased that the Mini model could finally be announced. He expressed his pride of VDL Nedcar director Joost Govaarts and his people, who carried out the reconstruction of the plant “entirely on schedule”.

Following the acquisition of Nedcar by VDL Group at the end of 2012, the redesign of the Born plant for the production of Mini model under contract to BMW Group began on 1 January 2013. VDL Nedcar employees worked on the reconstruction alongside various suppliers for over a year: from structural changes to logistical changes and the installation of production facilities. 

It was stated then that “At present, more than half of the 1,500 VDL Nedcar employees are back at work. The remaining employees will gradually rejoin them during the course of this year.” 

Meanwhile, the new Mini Hatch looks set to broaden its appeal with the introduction of another diesel engine: the Mini Cooper SD three-door Hatch.

BMW claims sales of the new Mini Hatch have been a “runaway success”, adding that as of June 2014, Mini UK has the strongest forward order bank for Hatch since the brand was relaunched in 2001.

In total there are now six power units available for the three-door Hatch in the UK, including three petrol and three diesel engines - all of which were newly developed.

The Mini Cooper SD three-door Hatch is powered by the 2-litre four-cylinder BMW engine generating a peak torque output of 360Nm at 1500rev/min. It also boasts a power output of 170 hp.

New Mini TwinPower Turbo Technology has a turbocharging system with variable turbine geometry and common rail injection with magnet valve injectors operating at a maximum pressure of 2,000bar. There is an optionally-available six-speed automatic transmission.

The car offers CO2 emissions of 109 grams per kilometre (automatic: 107g/km, EU test cycle figures, dependent on tyre selection).

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