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BMW to boost production in Britain

LONDON, Sept 3 – German automaker BMW plans to build new models of the iconic Mini in Britain, in a major boost for the country\’s ailing car making industry, the British government said.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said late Wednesday that the two new models would be built at the company\’s plant in Cowley, near Oxford and London.

"The production of two new Minis 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," Mandelson said.

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

The new models will be unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show on September 15.

BMW\’s chief executive Norbert Reithofer confirmed the plans to the Financial Times, adding that new jobs and investment would be created at the Cowley plant, although he did not give details.

"I am pleased to announce the Mini Coupe concept car and another new mini model will both be built at Oxford," he told the FT newspaper Thursday.

BMW said in February it was shedding 850 workers, who help to make the Mini at the plant, one of Britain\’s largest car factories, as the economic crisis hit demand for the car.

Most of those workers have now been rehired thanks to an increasing global demand for smaller cars, according to reports.

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Britain\’s auto industry has been hit hard as demand for new cars slumped in the wake of the global economic slowdown.

British car output fell 17.9 percent in July from a year earlier, but the pace of decline has eased due to the government\’s scrappage scheme, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

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