If you studied the locations mentioned in The Mini System you may be wondering why assemble the cars in Oxford. With 200 truck deliveries of parts arriving each day and 2 trains of cars departing each day, wouldn’t it make more sense to assemble the cars in Birmingham, Swindon or Southampton and reduce some of the transport costs?
The answer is largely historical. Cars have been built at the Oxford factory site for more than 100 years. The first was a Morris Oxford in 1913, with the factory producing around 20 hand-built cars per week.
By 1932 there were 4 mechanised production lines, producing cars for Morris Motors, such as the Morris Minor.
When the Mini was launched in 1959, the site was the largest in Europe.
In 1966, a branch off the main railway line was constructed, so that trains could pull right into the factory site. The outputs (cars) could then be transported easily.
Later construction of the Mini was moved to Birmingham, but the Oxford site continued to be used for building cars.
Then in 2000, production moved back to Oxford, to a newly completed factory built on the original site. The MINI was relaunched, with an updated design for the car and capital letters in the name!
The new factory was built at Oxford because the site was already established. The road and rail connections were already in place. The 100+ year history of innovative design and engineering meant that skilled workers could be found from the local population.
With its army of robots there are only 4000 employees today, but the Mini factory is still the largest industrial employer in Oxfordshire.