BMW has announced record sales ahead of the official launch of the new Mini, which is being manufactured in Cowley. The German car maker sold almost 81,000 vehicles worldwide in May, and increase of nearly 8% on the same period last year. The new Mini One and the new Mini Cooper will be launched in the UK on July 7, 42 years after the Mini was first launched. BMW plans to introduce the new cars into Continental Europe from September 2001, and into the US and Asia from 2002. Cowley in its Rover days The factory in Cowley will manufacture around 100,000 new Minis in total, with around a quarter of them destined for the UK Market. Mini production in Cowley used highly skilled labour - each Mini is customised with 76 different options for customers.Without the new Mini, it is likely that the former Rover plant would have been shut down last year. Production of the old Mini in Longbridge was discontinued in October 2000. However, when BMW got rid of Rover, its UK subsidiary, it wanted to keep the Mini. The new Mini will be sold by dedicated Mini sales staff working in dedicated Mini dealerships - although these will be based in BMW's 148 UK dealerships.