Rover Group corporate sales director Steve Harris said major efforts were being made to protect residual values, vital to the whole range's fleet appeal. Measures have included extending the replacement cycles of Rover's own staff fleet, from nine months to two years.
'Our strategy is to work on quality fleet business and build on the inherent desirability of our models,' he said. Rover has approved a 'substantial facelift' of the new 200/400 - with the design project called Jewel for the 200 and Oyster for the 400 - expected to bring a new, 75-style front end, restyled body panels, skinnier seats inside and a range of new engines in October or November. A new 2.0 V6 400 is also expected to close the gap between the current range and the new 75 until the new 200/400 range arrives.
Tough negotiations have also been taking place with parts suppliers to slash components prices as Rover finds savings to stave off losses from poor UK sales combined with the strong Pound hitting income from exports. Harris refused to comment on speculation about the new 200/ 400 model expected in 2003 as Rover's German bosses at BMW, including new chairman Professor Joachim Milberg, discuss the future of the Longbridge plant - the home of the 200/400 range.