A Scent of Collaboration as New Models Hit Road

By O'Brien, James | The Birmingham Post (England), May 10, 2000 | Go to article overview

A Scent of Collaboration as New Models Hit Road


O'Brien, James, The Birmingham Post (England)


Two big questions confronted the Phoenix consortium before its deal was signed with BMW.

The first was concern about getting the right financial backing for its bid and the second was how it would sustain its business during the long term.

The money question has been resolved.

Behind the scenes BMW had more confidence in Phoenix's abilities to raise the money than most of the pundits.

But the question that remains unanswered is Rover's long-term fortunes.

It is now clear that when Rover brings out a new model a heavy scent of collaboration will be in the air.

Honda has not forgotten that John Towers, who heads the Phoenix consortium, preferred to see Rover sold to Honda rather than BMW. The Japanese car maker was not ruled in at the top of the list but the aim of the new management is to see car manufacturers beating a path to Rover's door.

While there is no shortage of euphoria there is also a real sense that Rover will be going through a balancing act during the next two years when Mr Towers expects the company to enter profitability.

That sort of statement which he made at his press conference at Longbridge, yesterday, can hold a company hostage.

But during April, sales of the Rover 25, the 45 and the 75 models have given Rover nearly 12 per cent of the UK market share.

This is something that BMW did not achieve and it blamed the British public for not buying its Rover cars.

But extra equipment on the vehicles tied to a pounds 1,000 reduction in prices started the public beating a path to the dealerships.

It would be wrong to think that patriotism was the guiding hand behind this remarkable surge. …

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