BMW will start building Mini in the Netherlands this summer

BMW will produce the third-generation Mini hatchback, shown, at the VDL Nedcar plant.
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FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- BMW said it will build the new Mini in the Netherlands starting this summer in a move to expand production capacity beyond its plant in Oxford, England.

BMW said the UK would still be the main manufacturing base for the Mini but said production of the Mini hatchback model would be split between Oxford and the factory in Born, Netherlands, run by contract manufacturer VDL Nedcar.

In November 2015, BMW will add production in Born of a second model, the Mini convertible, Renee Vounckx, deputy head of the press and body shop at VDL Nedcar, told Automobilwoche, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe.

Vounckx said the plant was configured to build four Mini models and would begin production of the hatchback on one shift and add a second shift for output of the convertible.

The company expects Mini production volumes at the Dutch factory to reach a five-digit figure this year, with around 1,500 people responsible for building the new Mini.

"The Mini brand is showing substantial growth," BMW production boss Harald Krueger said Monday in a statement, adding that there were no plans to build BMW-brand cars at the plant.

BMW Group is diversifying production of the Mini as part of a growth strategy to reach a combined annual sales target for the group's BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brands of over 2 million vehicles by 2016.

The company says it needs additional, external production capacity on top of the capacity of the Mini plant in Oxford, which is at about 260,000 units per year.

BMW already has a production agreement with Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria, where it built 125,559 Mini Countryman and Mini Paceman models in 2013.

Of the overall 303,177 Mini vehicles produced in 2013 only just over half, or 175,986 versions of the Mini hatchback, convertible, Clubman, Clubvan, roadster and coupe models, were made in Oxford.

VDL Nedcar staff are currently receiving training on the BMW Group production system at the BMW plants in Oxford as well as German factories in Leipzig and Regensburg, BMW said.

Since the relaunch of the brand in 2001, nearly 2.8 million Mini vehicles have been produced, according to BMW.

The Nedcar factory was previously owned by Mitsubishi, which built the Colt subcompact and the Outlander SUV models there. After ending production at Nedcar in 2012, Mitsubishi sold the plant to local bus maker VDL Groep for 1 euro ($1.23).

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