Fleet News

Decision day looms over future of Rover factory

BMW's new chairman Joachim Milberg has made his strongest commitment yet to the future of Rover. He says the German group's success is inextricably linked to its UK subsidiary with the company promising a decision on where its successors to the 200 and 400 ranges will be built by the end of March.

But he and other executives at BMW remained tight-lipped at the Geneva Motor Show about the future of Longbridge, refusing to reveal details of the application to the UK Government for grant aid and simultaneously appearing undecided about how Rover's product line-up will look.

In a speech at the Geneva Motor Show Milberg said: 'The current situation at Rover causing public debate is furthermore just a momentary perspective of a long-term process - the process of reorganising Rover from top to bottom.' He called Rover's performance in 1998 'unsatisfactory', and blamed it on the strong Pound in all its foreign markets and Rover being too weak to 'counter such difficult times, through greater flexibility'.

The reorganisation, he said, was being carried out in a number of ways. They included: the investment of more than seven billion Deutchmarks (£2.5 billion) in new sales and distribution structures, new production facilities, technologies and new models; the building of virtually all new plants at Rover's existing locations in Solihull and Oxford. Other investments will follow.

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