Wednesday 19 March 2014

Mini on target to roll at VDL Nedcar

BMW Group is to begin production of the Mini hatch this summer at VDL Nedcar, according to board chairman Norbert Reithofer.

He added that the parent company is expecting even more from the brand this year with the launch of the new generation model this spring and additional volume from the Netherlands in the summer.

The company said Mini set a new sales record last year with worldwide sales edging up 1.2 percent to 305,030 vehicles, up from 301,526,

More volume from Mini will also push the BMW Group towards its target of 2m vehicles a year, two years ahead of plan, claimed Reithofer.

He said: "We have previously announced that we would sell over 2m cars by 2016. We are going to meet this target earlier than planned."

"We are confident. In the first two months of the year we have already sold around 274,000 cars – more than any of our competitors. This is the best start to the year we have ever had," Reithofer added.

But global issues can change matters quickly.

"We closely follow global political and economic developments. The world is very fragile and only one thing is certain: Things can change very quickly at any time so it is important to have a long term strategy,” he noted.

"Our strategy enables us to clearly assess the numerous risks and uncertainties in our business and to respond accordingly."

BMW's planned growth in sales should also be reflected in group profit before tax - €7.9bn (£6.6bn) last year.

Reithofer added: "We expect this to rise significantly in the current year despite ongoing volatile business conditions. The pace at which earnings increase will, however, be affected by high levels of expenditure for new technologies and by rising personnel expenses."

BMW's fleet, which includes Mini and Rolls-Royce now has 39 models with CO2 emissions of less than 120 g/km, down from 210 g/km in 1995. By 2020 BMW is targeting a figure closer to 105g/km.

                                                 Contract production

Meanwhile, the new Mini Hatch, which celebrated the start of production start at Plant Oxford in November 2013, appears to be on schedule at VDL Nedcar in Born, Netherlands.

Mini then will be the only automotive manufacturer that has series production vehicles built through a contract production in the Netherlands.

BMW stands to benefit from the favourable location of the VDL Nedcar site in terms of logistics and its proximity to Mini production network with its locations in Oxford, Swindon and Hams Hall in the UK, Hams Hall being a crucial link in the BMW supply chain. Over 1,000 people are employed at the Coleshill plant which supplies engines to the Mini production plant Plant Oxford and well as to BMW plants in Munich, Regensburg, Leipzig and Dingolfing (Germany), MSF (Magna Steyr Fahrzeug) in Graz (Austria), Rosslyn (South Africa) and Spartanburg (USA) for the BMW 1 Series, 3 Series, 5 series, Z4 Roadster and X3 model ranges.

Meanwhile, BMW Group will be stepping up its presence at VDL Nedcar (below) in the Netherlands significantly, making the plant the new fourth leg of the Mini supply chain stool.

“Contract production is a vital flexibility tool for us, and our experience gathered over the past ten years has been nothing but positive. Splitting production of the new Mini Hatch between Oxford and Born will give our global production network additional leeway. We appreciate the reliable, open and trustful cooperation with our Dutch partner, VDL Nedcar,” stated Dr. Klaus Draeger during his visit to the plant in Born earlier this year. Draeger is BMW AG’s board member for purchasing and supplier network.

Head of production Harald Krüger added: “The Mini brand is showing substantial growth. This is why we need additional, external production capacity on top of the capacity of Plant Oxford, which stands at about 260,000 units a year in the medium term.

He claimed VDL Nedcar “has many years of experience in producing high quality vehicles”, so he sees the company as an ideal partner for BMW. VDL Nedcar is BMW’s second contract supplier for Mini. MSF (Magna Steyr Fahrzeug) being the other.

“At the same time, the UK production network is and will remain the heart of Mini production. Splitting production of the Mini Hatch between Plant Oxford and Born will give us greater flexibility for other models,” he said.

A workforce of around 1,500 people will be responsible for building the new Mini from summer 2014. This year it is expected that Mini production volumes at VDL Nedcar will reach the five-digit range.

The same demanding quality standards will apply to Mini production in Oxford and Born, according to BMW, in effect making the plant a mirror image of Plant Oxford.

To ensure these quality standards, VDL Nedcar staff have been receiving in-depth training on the BMW Group production system at the BMW plants in Leipzig, Oxford and Regensburg.

At the time of the plant visit, it was noted that in 2013, 303,177 Mini vehicles were produced. Of these, Plant Oxford produced 175,986 Mini Hatch, Convertible, Clubman, Clubvan, Roadster and Coupé models.

An additional 125,559 Mini Countryman and Mini Paceman models were built by the contract manufacturer MSF in Graz, Austria plus additional 1,632 units “in other plants”. Since the relaunch of the brand in 2001, some 2.8 million Mini vehicles have been produced.

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