OXFORD, England -- BMW's long-underused Hams Hall engine plant here is starting to realize its potential as BMW's global center for four-cylinder gasoline engines.
This year, Hams Hall will start producing engines for the 1 series, and in 2006 it will produce engines for the next-generation Mini. The plant can build up to 400,000 engines annually. But last year it produced only 124,500 engines, entirely for the 3 series.
With the introduction of the 1 series, production will rise to 140,000 units this year and 200,000 in 2005. The 1 series will be introduced in Europe on Sept. 18.
BMW AG and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen SA are developing a four-cylinder gasoline engine jointly. The version for the Mini will be assembled at Hams Hall from components made in France, a BMW spokesman says.
That engine will replace the four-cylinder engine used in the Mini, which is imported from the Tritec plant in Curitiba, Brazil. Tritec is a joint venture of BMW and DaimlerChrysler AG.
PSA will make its version in Douvrin, France.
Hams Hall was completed in 2001 shortly after BMW sold Rover Group. Hams Hall was designed to make all four-cylinder engines for BMWs and Rovers. With Rover gone, BMW had to rethink its engine production strategy.
Making four-cylinder gasoline engines for the 3 series alone was not enough to keep the plant going. So BMW decided to produce the Mini's engine there.
The next-generation Mini also is likely to get a PSA diesel engine to replace the Toyota diesels now from Japan.
For the next Mini, BMW also will stamp nearly all its own body panels. Stampings for the Mini come from Land Rover's stamping plant at Lode Lane in Solihull, England.
Other stampings come from BMW's press shops in Dingolfing, Germany, and Swindon, England. For the next-generation Mini, stampings will come almost entirely from Swindon, which is one of Europe's largest stamping plants.