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Rover brand to sell on 'value and luxury' tag

The arrival of an MG-badged 75 coupe within 12 months will lead the recovery as Rover fights to regain market share and revive its fortunes. MG versions of the 25 and 45 (including an estate) are planned.

Cars sold under the MG name would be re-engineered, not just badged, with styling similar to the 75 Design Theme concept shown at Geneva motor show in March.

Executives spoke of the plans this week to raise morale after reports that Rover will halve production this year to fewer than 52,000 units.

The transfer of Rover 75 from Oxford to Birmingham, halting production until October, will leave dealers with a shortage of cars in plate-change September.

Phoenix aims to develop the Rover and MG names in parallel. A spokesman said there were no plans to drop the Rover brand, held “indefinitely” under licence from BMW.

“The Rover brand represents value and luxury and the MG brand could be a sportier and premium version of that,” he said. “The application of the MG name across a broader range of cars is under serious consideration.”

All 330 UK Rover dealers will be offered the MG franchise, currently restricted to around 120 outlets. Phoenix boss John Towers met valuation experts from Cap and Glass's last month to discuss future prospects.

Mark Norman, who represented Cap at the meeting, felt Mr Towers had set “sensible and realistic” targets for Rover. “The 25 and 45 have a couple of years left but in the long term Rover will need new models, which will involve partnerships,” he said. “It has the backing of many dealers, but some are still looking for a way out.”

Former MG brand manager Guy Pigounakis - described internally as “a fundamental part of MG's success” - has been appointed Rover commercial director, reporting to John Parkinson.

Angus Gray, former regional operations and fleet manager, will become Rover fleet sales director.

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