Well, that was quick. It was only a couple of months ago when MINI unveiled the new Countryman and now the third-generation model has entered production. Codenamed U25, the all-new vehicle has blossomed into a fully fledged compact crossover almost as big as its sister model, the BMW X1. With the next-gen car, the BMW Group has decided to move production in-house rather than continuing to outsource it to the VDL Nedcar plant in Born, The Netherlands.
The new Countryman is now rolling off the assembly line at the Leipzig plant in Germany where BMW produces the model alongside the 1 Series hatchback as well as the 2 Series Gran Coupe and 2 Series Active Tourer. Whereas its predecessor was available as a plug-in hybrid, the third iteration of MINI’s biggest vehicle skips this partial electrification in favor of a pure EV built alongside the ICE models. Leipzig has been an important factory for BMW Group’s early days of electrification since this is where the i3 and i8 were made.
Between now and the end of 2024, the workforce in Leipzig will grow by more than 1,000 employees to support the arrival of the new Countryman on the assembly line. The start of production comes only a couple of days after MINI introduced the high-performance John Cooper Works with the same punch as the X1 M35i. Since 2018, parent company BMW has invested approximately €700 million to boost production capacity following the decision to internalize the model’s production. Initially, around 100 Countryman units will be made daily but the volume will grow to 500 vehicles during next year. That’s on top of the already 1,000 units being made there between the 1er and 2er models.
The Countryman won’t remain MINI’s sole crossover for much longer considering the production-ready Aceman will premiere in April 2024. It won’t be built in Germany or even Europe for that matter since assembly will take place in China. Spotlight Automotive, a 50:50 joint venture between BMW and Great Wall Motor, is going to produce the electric-only crossover for global export. Assembly will take place at a new factory in Zhangjiagang in the Jiangsu Province where the recently unveiled electric Cooper 3-Door is also going to be made. From 2026, these two future EVs are also going to be built in the UK.