MG Rover made a return to the world stage in Geneva after a notable absence form the Birmingham motor show. The Rover team had worked through the night preparing for the launch of its new estate model – which the company hopes will answer those critics who say it can’t make cars people want to buy.
But the company’s future also depends on the success of its new range of MG sports saloons – also on show in Geneva for the first time – which it hopes will reach out to a new generation of younger buyers. The challenges facing workers back at Rover’s Longbridge plant may be formidable – but the company has slashed its costs, almost halved its workforce and is turning-out new models at a pace unheard of in the industry.
In Geneva the mood is bullish
“In the last nine months we’ve produced five new models, that is unheard of in the industry,” explained John Sanders, MG Rover’s Marketing Director. “That is a reflection of the entrepreneurial spirit that drives our business today.”
“We hit targets every single month on cost cutting on profit generation and on sales, we haven’t missed a beat and we don’t intend to.” MG Rover is joined by an unprecedented number of British based manufacturers – like Honda – who have big launches at the motor show.
Brit pack hits town
Honda is unveiling a sports version of the Civic – built at its factory in Swindon in Wiltshire. Jaguar – now owned by Ford – unveiled its X-Type baby Jag – built at Halewood on Merseyside – and which it hopes will help it quadruple sales in five years.
There will also be the first appearance of BMW’s new MINI range – to be built at Oxford – and Nissan and Toyota are also expected to reaffirm plans to increase British production. From the evidence displayed in Geneva – British car manufacturing is alive and thriving – but it will only remain so if the new models sell well – and in today’s oversupplied global marketplace – that is far from certain.