UK automotive continues Mini revolution

Posted on 3 May 2012

Production at the Oxford-based Mini plant has increased by 7.1% for the first three months of 2012 compared to the corresponding period in 2011.

Mini, which forms part of the German-owned BMW group, made 82,129 vehicles in the first quarter of 2012, a significant rise on the 76,684 that rolled off the production line in Cowley between January and March 2011.

Sales of the iconic British brand has risen from 60,210 units in Q1 2011 to 68,210 units in Q2 as the group sold more vehicles in March than in any single previous month.

This 12.1% increase in sales contributed heavily to the BMW group’s record first quarter figures. BMW said in a statement this morning that the Mini brand “continued to generate an extremely high-value product mix.” The Mini Cooper is still the company’s biggest-selling vehicle, accounting for 44.3% of all Mini sales.

The group’s European sales were hit with year-on-year falls in Germany and Britain, two of the manufacturer’s largest markets in the region. Fewer vehicles were sold in Italy and Spain, but the company experienced a small increase in France.

BMW have forecasted that car sales will slip by 2 % in Great Britain and by 7% in France over the next year and predicts further decreases from Italy and Spain due to the public debt situation in these countries.

Predictably, the growth came from Asia where the group shifted 118,880 vehicles, almost one third more than in the first quarter of the previous year.

BMW reported that China will remain ahead of the USA as the largest car market worldwide and, based on a growth rate of 8%, will register a new high level.  However, it warned that if the slow-down in growth experienced in the first quarter should persist throughout 2012, it is possible that the growth rate for the Chinese car market could drop to 5 %.

Japan’s automobile market should grow by more than 15% because the backlog in demand which had built up in the previous year is being reduced. As far as the world’s emerging markets are concerned, India is forecast to grow at 7 % in 2012 and Russia by 8%. Growth in Brazil is likely to be in the region of 3%.