BMW's Hams Hall plant in Warwickshire has passed a number of milestones this month including building its millionth engine for BMW-badged cars.

The factory near Coleshill, which employs nearly 1,000 people, has also started making engines for the BMW 5 series for the first time.

It also now supplies a new plant in Germany and is on course to set a new annual production record this year.

The one millionth engine to be produced at Hams Hall for BMW since the plant was opened in 2001 came off the assembly line last week.

This achievement follows an earlier milestone reached on April 16, when the combined engine output at Hams Hall for BMW and Mini also passed the one million mark.

"Following last year's output of 217,000 engines, annual production this year will rise to over 350,000 engines," said Robert Bolam, who took over as plant director at Hams Hall at the beginning of the year.

"This increase is largely a result of the introduction of the new family of petrol engines for Mini we started to deliver to the Mini assembly plant at Oxford towards the end of last year.

"Together with the four-cylinder petrol engines we already produce for a growing range of BMW models, this has really boosted output."

The millionth BMW engine was a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine featuring high precision injection.

Within hours of coming off the production line, the engine was on its way to Dingolfing in Germany, location of the largest vehicle

assembly plant in the BMW Group, where it will be built into a BMW 5 Series saloon.

This is the first time that the UK-built engines will be used in a BMW 5 Series model. Hams Hall engines already power the four-cylinder petrol variants of the BMW 1 Series, 3 Series, Z4 Roadster and X3 model ranges.

Supplying engines to Dingolfing takes the number of assembly plants being served by Hams Hall to a total of eight.

Hams Hall's other BMW customer plants are in Leipzig, Munich and Regensburg (Germany), Graz (Austria), Rosslyn (South Africa) and Spartanburg (US).

Hams Hall's nearest and biggest customer is the Mini assembly plant in Oxford.

In 2001, its first year of production, the Hams Hall plant produced 70,000 engines and employed 450 people.