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March 17, 2000

Rover Sails Off Into the Sunset

   BMW has finally given up on Rover, after years of red ink and opposition to British subsidies from the EU. Both unions and the British government were rightly concerned over Rovers fate when rumours of the sale were first confirmed, but the truth is Rover's demise in recent years has been as much due to BMW's neglect as to past history and high costs in Britain. In six years, when all of Rover's models needed to be replaced, when the company desperately needed new, more profitable models, only one significant model was introduced, the 75. In that same time period almost every BMW model has been replaced and new models introduced. The new Mini (being kept by BMW) has yet to materialise, and other replacements, planned from the beginning, are still nothing more than codes. Even the profitable Range Rover/Land Rover line has only recieved minor updates since being acquired by BMW, as competitors (and BMW) introduce more luxurious and refined models. Bernd Pischetsrieder, BMW's former chief, was probably naive about the viability of reviving some of Rover's more gloried marques, but the opposition within BMW to diverting the required funds for development certainly doomed Rover in the end and added to BMW's pain.
  So what now for Rover? The new owner, venture capital group Alchemy Partners, apparently plans to turn their new MG Car Company into a profitable outfit before selling the operation. At this stage it seems to be at the cost of almost the entire present operation. With no product development planned (except for that already underway for a new MG) and with almost every model in need of replacement, Rover's future as a mass manufacturer looks very bleak indeed. What Rover needs is a large owner, committed to and capable of the further product research and development required to keep Rover in business. Neither Alchemy Partners, nor BMW as controled by the Quandts, have either the funds, or the will. Rover's longship logo has become a funeral barge.

2000, Mar 17 1999, Dec 3 1999, Nov 14 1999, Oct 26
1998, Jan 1