Jul 06, 2016
NEARING THE FINISH LINE.
From Oxford to you, our car production journey is the perfect blend of automated genius and good old-fashioned craftsmanship. For your edification and time-killing enjoyment, here’s a rundown of a 21st century process steeped in traditional MINI awesomeness.
Anticipation: it’s both exhilarating and excruciating. It’s the adrenaline rush of knowing your MINI’s hit production weighed against your impatient desire to get behind the wheel. Trust us, we know – it’s a momentous time. But you don’t have to wait until delivery of your MINI to begin your journey together. All great partnerships are based on understanding and, already, your MINI has a story to tell.
For the majority of MINIs it begins at the official heart and home of MINI, Plant Oxford. Located in England’s City of Dreaming Spires, Plant Oxford completes one brilliant MINI every 67 seconds. With over a billion variations due to body type, colours and contrasting roofs, no two MINI vehicles are the same in a sequence. Plant Oxford epitomises complex manufacturing of the highest order.
Divided into three sub-factories, the plant consists of Body in White, where your MINI’s exterior shape is formed; Paint, where it receives its individual colour; and Assembly, where all the components unite to produce your individual, iconic car.
At Body in White, 1200 ultra-precise robots piece together the 435-part puzzle that is each MINI body. The robots apply 4000 spot welds to each shell to ensure a rigid structure before a specialist auditor performs random checks to assess calibre and integrity. Your MINI is then fitted with its doors, boot and bonnet before heading off to a rigorous quality control evaluation. Our robots are perfect for many tasks, but not this one – everybody shell must be scrutinised from top to bottom by human eyes and hands to ensure the highest quality finish.
Once perfect, your MINI shell advances to the Paint Shop. A massive building covering more than 60,000 m3, the facility cost £80 million and was the UK’s second biggest construction project after the Millennium Dome. All up, it takes around 10 hours for each MINI body shell to pass through the entire paint process from applying a corrosion protection layer, through to its glossy clear-coat layer. With 16 body and five contrast roof colours to choose from, bonnet stripes, exterior mirror caps and side scuttles, few other models come close to the level of customisation MINI has offered for more than 50 years.
One last oven bake, followed by a polish and wax, and your MINI is ready for assembly. This is the final stage in your MINI’s journey through Plant Oxford and is where the car will be fully finished and sent on its way to you. Queue fist pumps. Your engine, comprising more than 200 parts meticulously assembled by hand, is fitted in a two-pronged attack involving one robot and two workers. In a state-of-the-art factory charged with building one of the most recognised cars in the world, nothing beats the partnership of man and machine.
Your MINI is finally kitted out with its wheels, filled with fluid and petrol and driven off the end of the production line for the concluding round of checks and tests. When all systems are go, it’s transported by Plant Oxford’s train to Southampton Port for shipment to Australia – one of MINI’s 110 destination countries around the world. Your MINI will stop in either South Africa or America before disembarking at Fremantle, Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane for a four-week bond process. Then it’s one last trek to your dealer before you and your MINI meet face to face for the first time. Here’s to a long and beautiful friendship!