Rover sales hit ten-year high
RECORD breaking export performance today led Rover Group to publish its best worldwide sales figures for ten years, writes David Duffy.
Rover Group sold more than 290,000 vehicles outside the UK in 1997 – the highest export total in its history and a 5.7 per cent rise on 1996. Total worldwide sales in 1997 totalled 521,000 vehicles, a 2.7 per cent rise on the 1996 total of 507,250. Exports continue to exceed home sales with 56 per cent of the company’s total sales going overseas.
The figures show Rover is on target to become Britain’s biggest exporter, ahead of British Aerospace and BP, by the year 2000. At present it is third in the export league.
A new luxury car being developed at the Cowley plant, codenamed the R40, which will be launched next year, is expected to play a significant role in continuing the rise in export sales.
Rover Group chairman and chief executive Dr Walter Hasselkus said: “In the current worldwide environment of fierce competition, this is a very good performance from Rover Group. “The export successes are particularly pleasing in view of the fact that the strong pound makes our products expensive in overseas markets.”
In the world’s largest automotive markets of North America and Japan, Rover Group set new records of 24,940 and 27,500 sales. In Europe, Italy remained Rover Group’s biggest export market with sales of 62,200 vehicles, more than 33 per cent up on 1996.
Sales in Germany rose by 41 per cent to 30,658, reflecting a major investment by Rover Group in its dealer network. UK sales remained steady at 230,400 sales. Some of Rover Group’s smaller markets achieved spectacular growth. In Argentina, sales increased by 100 per cent to 7,400 and similar growth was achieved in Sweden, Slovenia and Hong Kong.
Total production of Rovers, Land Rovers, MGs and Minis increased by 3.6 per cent last year from 504,100 to 522,500.