The new MINI production line has been readied just a year after the firm started selling cars in India. Initially, the plant will build the MINI Cooper D Countryman and the MINI One Countryman, in addition to the BMW 3 Series, 5 Series, X1 and X3 models that have been produced since the factory opened in 2007.
MINI has five showrooms in India, in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore, and sold 302 cars between March and December 2012. India is the 100th market in the global MINI sales network.
Despite the small number of sales so far, BMW is confident that the Indian market is set to expand greatly in the mid to long-term future – particularly the small car market.
The firm said “the ramping up of international production capacity is primarily aimed at providing a rapid and flexible supply line to the increasing number of customers in emerging markets.”
BMW Group claims that the decision to build MINIs in India is in line with its “production follows the market” strategy.
However, by building cars in India, the firm avoids the 100 per cent import duty imposed on fully built cars brought into the country. Even if the cars are built in India from imported parts, the tax drops to 30 per cent.
What’s more, the Indian car market has slowed greatly this year, with the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers stating that car sales for the first three months of 2013 falling by around seven per cent, to 1.9-million units, compared with the same period in 2012.
When MINI was resurrected by BMW in 2001, the firm built cars solely at its Plant Oxford site. The Oxford site is still responsible for building five of the firm’s seven models, supplied by an engine plant at Hams Hall, Birmingham, and a press shop in Swindon.
The Countryman and Paceman models built for MINI by Magna Steyr, in Graz, Austria.