BMW will add a third shift to produce the Mini at its Oxford, England, plant later this year.
To meet anticipated demand for the new Mini, the weekend shift will add 33 more hours of operation at the plant, using three 11-hour workdays.
That will raise Oxford's average operating week to more than 100 hours, said plant spokeswoman Angela Wigley. It will be a 'permanent weekend shift,' she added. The only downtime for routine maintenance will be on Sunday.
The original production plan for Oxford was to start slowly in April and build 30,000 units this year and 100,000 units in 2002, using two shifts with some overtime and occasional third shifts.
'We're still ramping up. We're not at our full daily rate yet,' Wigley said.
Wigley declined to say how many more units the extra shift would add, but at full speed Oxford expects to build 500 units a day. Industry analysts say BMW told suppliers to expect future annual production of 150,000 to 180,000 units.
BMW sold 7,263 Minis in September, its first full month of sales. BMW will launch the Mini in North America next year. A high-performance Cooper S model also is due next year.
Oxford's only mechanical constraint is a paint shop that was initially designed for the Rover 75, said Charles Moss, an independent product analyst in London. That limits production to 150,000 to 200,000 units, depending on modifications.
A local labor shortage may affect third-shift hiring, as it did the second.