Rover to the Dead-end Road
November 2002

If FIAT collapse, many car lovers will be very upset, for FIAT used to build mainstream cars having unusual characters. 

If MG Rover collapse, I think few people will be regret. People will forget it quickly, just like they forgot BMC, Leyland and Austin Rover. Changing the name to MG Rover won't solve the problem. Changing car-making philosophy to please hardcore enthusiasts might sounds clever, but this is still a dead end road. Tell me how many people will buy a MG-brand sports car which is powered by a Mustang engine and being priced more expensive than a Porsche 911. Add more horsepower and it becomes as expensive as a Ferrari Modena. Tell me which one you will choose?

They might say the MG SV is not prepared for large-scale production, or explain that it is for part-time racing. OK, but I would choose a 911 GT3 Club Sport instead.

We can understand why British media praise the effort spent to MG TF, ZR, ZS and ZT. However, do those appreciation result in good sales? MG Rover announced that their 2nd full year "successfully" halved the loss again, but they didn't tell you that their original plan was to break-even that year. Sales in UK was actually pretty good (thanks to the free promotion from your British magazines), but European market collapsed heavily. 

The question is: with their cash burning quickly, MG Rover is now dying. They don't have sufficient money to develop a decent product. People hope the forthcoming replacement to Rover 45 (see the concept car Rover TCV) would bring prosperity back to MG Rover, but I doubt that. Because of tight budget, MG has to build the car based on the Rover 75 platform, which is already not renowned for space efficiency. You know, space is very important now to European small cars. If the new 45 fail, MG Rover's fate will end in the inevitable bankruptcy. 

Think in this way, when BMW failed to save Rover, when no other big car makers were willing to take over or make alliance with Rover, you know everybody is expecting the last British car maker to collapse. Poor MG Rover had to seek partners in the third-world, such as Tata and China Brilliance. Can they save the Rover? of course not. Building or selling a Tata small car will only degrade the brand value of Rover and make no profit. On the other hand, the joint venture agreement with China Brilliance now seems over, as the chairman of the Chinese car maker has been sacked and under criminal investigation by the authority. China Brilliance has already established a joint venture with BMW, so the new management is unlikely to approve the risky project with MG Rover. 

In the end, MG Rover will finally disappear from the world, just like its predecessor BMC-Leyland, Austin-Rover and Rover. People will never regret that they lose the unattractive MG TF, ZR / S / T, Rover 25 / 45 / 75 etc. They will just be happy that Mini is in the safe hands of German.

Mark Wan

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