Workers at Swindon’s BMW plant have been praised for helping the new Mini Hatch win one of the UK car industry’s most-prestigious awards.
The Mini Hatch – the latest in the iconic range – was named Auto Express magazine’s Car of the Year 2014 earlier this week against tough competition.
The Swindon plant, which employs around 800 people, makes body panels for the entire Mini range, including around 90% of all the car’s panels and almost 80% of its sub-assemblies such as doors, bonnets and tailgates.
These are transported to BMW’s Oxford plant where the cars are assembled with engines made at a sister factory at Hams Hall, near Birmingham.
Mini UK director Chris Brownridge collected the prestigious Auto Express award at a lavish ceremony in London’s Grand Connaught Rooms.
He said: “The new Mini Hatch has received universal acclaim since we launched it earlier this year. A great deal of work has gone in to refining performance, handling, style and quality with this all-new model and this recognition is testament to that effort.
“This award is a real boost to all 6,000 Mini associates across plant Hams Hall, Swindon and of course, Oxford, all of whom should be extremely proud of this achievement. They have created a car which in just a few months has captured the imagination of customers and the motor industry alike.”
The award was presented by Auto Express editor-in-chief Steve Fowler, who said: “The Mini Hatch is the perfect Car of the Year for 2014 – it’s a small car that’s big on talent. We love the way it drives, the quality, the efficiency and the big car tech on board. It’s also built brilliantly in Britain – a car the UK can be proud of.”
Since its UK market launch in March, the Mini Hatch has been a runaway success, winning both critical acclaim and new customers. It has also given BMW the strongest forward order bank for a Mini since the marque was relaunched in 2001.
BMW spent £750m upgrading its three UK manufacturing sites ahead of the Hatch launch. The investment at the Swindon plant is the latest in a series of moves which have transformed it into a world-class body manufacturing site.
Innovative pressing and welding technology at the plant makes production far more flexible, allowing it to produce a greater number of panels for different variants of the Mini.
Prices for the Mini Hatch start at £13,750. The car is more spacious than previous Minis, finished to an even higher standard and provides the driver with a more dynamic and performance-oriented experience.