Fleet News

Profitability fears will not hit new Mini launch

UNCERTAINTY over the profitability of Rover Group operations will not prevent the company from launching its next-generation Mini in two years' time. But the car will not go on the tracks at its traditional Birmingham production base if crucial negotiations aimed at countering the twin problems of the high pound and low productivity are not resolved by the end of next month, BMW chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder said at the British International Motor Show.

Instead, output would be switched from Longbridge to the upgraded Rover Oxford factory at Cowley, He said a halt had been called on the four-year, £1 billion project to refurbish Longbridge for the Mini and the vital medium-size model due to replace the 200 and 400 ranges in 2003.

'We have to remain in the heartland of the fleet market and we need a viable product to replace the 200 and 400. It is not our objective to do that away from the UK, but if the Longbridge modernisation is not started again, we will do it somewhere else within the group. It is not our objective to run out these cars and the factory, but our shareholders cannot be prepared to spend money in a business which doesn't have a positive outlook,' said Pischetsrieder.

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