Fleet News

Phoenix dashes Rover fleet hopes

HOPES that Rover will develop a car to compete in the upper-medium sector - the heartland of fleet - look set to have been dashed by new owner, Phoenix. Fleet managers have repeatedly said the lack of a competitor to the Vauxhall Vectra and Ford Mondeo meant they were unable to strike deals with Rover.

The problem also dogged BMW's ownership of the brand with fleet managers as far back as spring last year stressing the need for a 'four-car line-up' if Rover was to remain mainstream in fleet. And just before his departure Rover Cars' managing director, Jim Macdonald, said the brand's growth would be 'on the back of new products that would appeal to a broader audience'. In the short-term John Towers, consortium head and new joint chief executive of Rover, says the company will continue to build the 25, 45 and 75 saloon, hoping the sales surge that has seen the marque enjoy its best April sales for a decade will continue, boosted by new marketing campaigns based on overcoming the bad publicity suffered for almost two years.

Phoenix has dismissed the possibility of continuing work on the R30, the replacement for the 25 and 45 scheduled to appear in 2003, as 'too expensive'. BMW will retain development of the R30 which could become the sub 3-series model - or 2-series. Phoenix will also not be sticking to the 25/45 replacement schedule - but has not given an alternative date. The consortium has also revealed that BMW has refused to allow Rover dealers to supply the new Mini, due on sale in 2001, which has led Phoenix to look at developing a small car - not an upper medium model.

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