MG Rover's German operation plans to start targeting fleet sales next year when it will have created a network of 200 dealers.
Managing director Jurgen Herrmann said the manufacturer faces the challenge of restoring consumer confidence after being sold by the BMW Group last year.
He identified one car though that he believes will play a pivotal role in revitalising the Rover brand in Germany.
Speaking exclusively to Fleet News Europe, Herrmann said: 'The Rover 75 Tourer is a key car to build up consumer confidence — it is the car we will use most to target fleet sales in Germany. It will open up the fleet market for us again.'
Herrmann said the manufacturer would use its MG range to target the German entrepreneur and user-chooser.
'Rover is almost starting again in Germany,' he added. 'A lot of dealerships disappeared after the BMW sale and we aim to have finished creating our new dealer network by the end of this year.
'Once that is up and running we can then start to target fleets. We haven't attempted to capture any fleets sales at the moment because we do not have a sufficient dealer network to service fleet customers' needs.'
Herrmann declined to predict how many of the cars the manufacturer expects to sell in Germany — either in fleet or retail.
'It is such early days for us,' he said. 'I don't know whether we will achieve 100 fleet contracts next year or 10 — but I do want at least 10,' he said.
'We want to start with small fleet customers, although we will not turn any large customers away, but it will take time to build up confidence again.'
The impact of the BMW sale is still being felt. Many BMW dealers who took on the Rover franchise have now disposed of it, despite the cost of redeveloping their showrooms.
The manufacturer is opening dealerships near to city centres. Although a large network of dealerships 'look attractive geographically', Herrmann said, countryside locations are 'unlikely to be profitable'.
He added that the manufacturer had plans to create a dedicated fleet department in Germany but did not know when, or how big, it would be. (October 2001)