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Small, powerful and green: 20 years of MINI production royally celebrated

During a visit to the BMW Mini car factory in Oxford, Prince Charles gave a speech about innovation and sustainability in the car industry.

HRH The Prince of Wales celebrating 20 years of modern MINI production at Plant Oxford. Image: BMW Group.
HRH The Prince of Wales celebrating 20 years of modern MINI production at Plant Oxford. Image: BMW Group.

Prince Charles, the oldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and heir as Head of State of the United Kingdom, joined the celebrations for twenty years of modern MINI production at the car’s production plant, in Oxford, England.

The Oxford base is now recognized as the home of the brand. During the visit, Prince Charles met the designers and workers people behind the cars and he was shown the manufacturing processes.

Given the Prince’s keen interest in environmental issues, a focal point of the visit was with MINI’s commitment to sustainable production processes.

The MINI is an iconic car. The original Mini (differentiated by being written in lower case) was a two-door compact so-called ‘city car’, produced by the English-based British Motor Corporation (BMC) and various successors between 1959 until 2000.

Today, the MINI range is owned by the German car maker BMW. The most popular cars in the range, like the Hatch, Clubman, Coupe and Roadster are assembled at BMW’s Plant Oxford in Cowley, England. The site has been producing cars since 1912 (originally the Morris range).

READ MORE: More than a small revival: BMW announces new MINI range

The number of cars produced at ‘Plant Oxford’ is within the region of 200,000 per year. In recent times, the plant has introduced several measures designed to ‘green’ the production process, as well as producing cars with a lower environmental impact (such as some models of MINI’s that are fully electric. Longer term, MINI will be the first BMW Group brand to go fully electric by the early 2030s.)

Prince Charles in the driving seat. Image: BMW Group

As an example of the green initiatives, the plant is served by a new fleet of lorries powered by liquefied natural gas. This is part of measures to push for more sustainable logistics at the plant. There are eighteen such lorries that are transporting parts and components from suppliers on 15 different routes across the UK to the MINI production facility.

In addition, BMW have adopted what they are referring to as “a 360-degree sustainability strategy”. The measures consist of a solar roof, heat regeneration, lighting systems, environmentally friendly production, the use of rainwater.

To add to this, the company has also set up bird boxes and has a program of ideas for raising awareness to further enhance sustainability among employees. This package of measures combines to make the MINI plant a thought leader in the green economy.

Acknowledging the steps taken towards sustainability, Prince Charles said during his visit: “For a large part of my life, I have been trying to draw attention for the need to operate as sustainably as possible so it really is very encouraging to see the breath of the sustainability measures that are being implemented across the company.”

The sustainable car future? Prince Charles watches MINI production. Image: BMW Group

Turning towards the importance of electric automobile, the Prince added: “The development of technology like electric vehicles is vital for maintaining the health of our world for future generations…as we build a much more durable, circular economy for the future of our communities and our planet.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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