Fleet News

MG Rover snubs show to save cash

MG ROVER is to step up its bid to win over fleet customers after a wave of uncertainty over the future of the company, sparked by its decision not to attend the show. It has launched a national advertising campaign highlighting the £1.25 million cost of putting a stand at the show and said it simply could not afford to attend, while offering an equivalent 'motor show' at its dealerships.

But the troubled manufacturer has had to deal with speculation of a boardroom split and two body blows from former owner BMW. The German manufacturer was alleged to have rejected a plea for a larger cash injection than the £500 million agreed following its sale and dashed hopes of a quick purchase of the Longbridge engine plant.

Following Ford's price cuts, the Rover 75 still has a hefty price premium over the key fleet contender, the Mondeo, which starts at £14,595, compared to the Rover 75, which costs £16,494.

Angus Gray, UK fleet sales director, said the firm expects to sell 95,000 cars, with up to 200,000 being sold worldwide. The firm is targeting fleet sales of about 50% in the UK, although it admits that it is underperforming so far.

It also denied claims of a boardroom split and rumours that MG Rover might be sold again were 'denied absolutely'. Gray said: 'It is simply not true. Neither have any members of the consortium proactively approached any manufacturers for any discussions at this point.

'We are in discussion with one major car manufacturer about a possible medium car platform, but both companies have signed a confidentiality agreement.

MG versions of the Rover 25, 45 and 75 should be ready to unveil in January, according to MG Rover, with user-choosers a key buyer. Although the models were planned for December, the firm felt interest would be muted by the approach of Christmas.

Angus Gray, UK fleet sales director, said: 'There will be MG versions of the cars and they will be very different to the donor car. They will stand the strictest scrutiny from the press as a completely different car.'

Although there may be wide expectations the MG models will be just a 'Rover with a new badge on the front', Gray insisted the range would count as an almost entirely new car.

In December next year, new MG and Rover 75 estates will be launched. An automatic version of the Rover 75 diesel is also planned.

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