Friday, 4 September 2009

AUTO HEADLINES

MINI Frankfurt show stars confirmed for production at Plant Oxford

Dr. Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management, BMW AG has announced that two new MINI models are to be built at MINI Plant Oxford.

Reithofer confirmed the production plan during his two-day visit to BMW Group UK operations earlier this week.

One of the models is based on the MINI Coupé Concept and a concept of the second vehicle will be unveiled for the first time to global media at Frankfurt Motor Show on 15 September.

Images of the stunning MINI Coupé Concept were issued to press on 26 August 2009, exactly fifty years after the first classic Mini was presented to the public.

Likely to feature the impressive 1.6-litre turbocharged MINI John Cooper Works power train, the MINI Coupé Concept is designed to be the most dynamic and agile MINI ever built. Strictly a two-seater, the low roof line, compact dimensions, perfect axle load distribution and lightweight construction are all trademarks of a genuine sports car.

Details of the second model have not yet been announced.

The two new models will join the existing Hatch, Clubman and Convertibles on the production line at Plant Oxford, where all derivatives are produced seamlessly just-in-time and just-in-sequence.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said: “The production of the two new MINI models is very good news for Oxford, and for the UK car industry. It is a demonstration of BMW’s long term commitment to the UK as it celebrates its 50th birthday this year.

“British drivers have had a long love affair with the MINI and I’m sure that this will continue for many years to come.”

Dr. Juergen Hedrich, Managing Director of MINI Plant Oxford, said: “The fact that Plant Oxford will be building these exciting new models shows the high level of flexibility of the plant and its associates. The MINI family has a bright future.”

Start dates for these two new models to enter production will be confirmed in due course. (Source:www.press.bmwgroup.com)

BMW to build two new models in the UK

BMW plans to build two new models at its Oxford plant, in a vote of confidence in UK manufacturing and a significant boost for Britain’s hard-pressed motor industry.

The move will result in new jobs and investment at the factory, which is operating close to its capacity of 200,000-220,000 cars a year, according to BMW chief executive Norbert Reithofer.

The carmaker will unveil concept versions of a Mini coupe and a second, as yet undisclosed car, at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this month.

Mr Reithofer said: “I am pleased to announce the Mini coupe concept car and another new Mini model will both be built at Oxford.”

The factory employs about 3,500 people. However, Mr Reithofer would not comment on potential job increases or a production timetable for the new Minis. Speculation that 1,000 jobs could be created has been described as premature by a BMW spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, Mr Reithofer has declared that BMW intends to continue as one of just two big independent luxury car producers now left in the world.

He ruled out a tie-up with a mass-market carmaker, and believes that the German manufacturer’s production volume of 1.5 million to two million cars a year will be enough to allow it to survive using limited ‘intelligent co-operations’ with other carmakers. (Financial Times: September 3).

Revised driving theory test set for introduction

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) will start to introduce case studies into the driving theory test later this month.

From September 28, one case study will be included in the exam for car drivers, moped and motorcycle riders.

As part of the multiple choice section of the test, the case study will assess candidates’ understanding of driving theory, whilst the multiple choice questions will continue to assess their knowledge of the subject.

The introductory theory test case study will take the form of a scenario, or short story, on which five questions will be based. Candidates will answer the questions in the same way as they do now, using either the touch screen or mouse.

The DSA’s director of driver education and learning Jill Lewis said: “Case studies are widely used in education to put learning into context and test comprehension of a subject, so many candidates will have encountered this type of question before.

“Initially we are introducing one case study based on existing questions in the theory test question bank, to get candidates used to the concept. It will also allow us to monitor any impact on the theory test. Over time, we plan to introduce more case studies into the theory test to assess candidates’ understanding of what they have learned.”

Changes to the theory test are part of Learning to Drive, a long-term programme of major reforms that will progressively strengthen the way that people learn to drive and are tested.