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Mini closes Cabrio’s doors

End of the line: The last topless Mini was produced last week.

BMW ends Mini Cabrio production at Plant Oxford, making way for a 2009 successor

11 Aug 2008

THE BMW Group has ceased production of Mini’s current R52-series Cooper Cabrio at its Oxford plant in the UK, to make way for a redesigned model in 2009, based on the second-generation R56 Cooper hatch.

The last example of what’s described by its maker as the world’s most lovable drop-head, a Mini Cooper S Cabrio Sidewalk painted metallic white silver, rolled off the production line last week, and was sold to an unnamed US customer.

BMW Australia said its three-variant Mini Cabrio range (including the S and John Cooper Works versions) would continue to be available into next year, and that production of the Cooper hardtop and Mini Clubman continues at Plant Oxford unaffected.

39 center imageThe Mini Cabrio accounted for 79,500 (including 56,500 Cooper S and JCW versions) of the million-plus new-generation Minis built by BMW in the UK - 80 per cent of which were exported to almost 80 nations from 2001. More than 12,200 new Minis have been sold in Australia since March 2002.

Americans were the second biggest group of Mini Cabrio buyers after those in the UK, with Germans, Italians and Japanese also ranking as the most avid fans. Just over 2000 examples were sold here since January 2005, putting Australia among the model’s top ten markets too.

Strangely, BMW said Mini Cabrio sales in Scandinavia were almost double that of the number sold in Greece, while Austrian buyers outnumbered Portuguese customers by five to one – despite their colder climate.

BMW says Mini sales in Australia are up seven per cent to the end of July this year, to 1278 cars, and that in the first six months of 2008 Mini has recorded a 17.9 per cent sales growth globally, with 126,810 examples sold this year – 20 per cent of which were Clubmans.

The Clubman wagon followed the MkII Cooper hatch on sale here by 12 months in Match this year, while the Mini Cooper S JCW hatch arrives Down Under next month.

Plant Oxford employs 4700 staff split between three shifts, which produce 800 Minis every day of the week. A further 2100 work at the Mini pressing plant in Swindon and the Hams Hall engine plant near Birmingham.

“Export is a key factor for the success and stability of our Mini plant in Oxford,” said the managing director of Plant Oxford, Oliver Zipse.

“Since Mini was launched we have seen a significant increase in export from less than 60 per cent in 2001 to over 80 per cent this year. The high customer demand in almost 80 countries around the world, from Chile to China, has driven Mini’s success over the last seven years,” he said.

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