By Peter Waymark Motoring Correspondent
The next five years will see a big rationalization of British Leyland’s car ranges with the introduction of several new and radically revised models and the disappearance of some familiar names. During Leyland’s first five years the main investment effort has been applied to the Austin Morris volume car segment. The number of models has already been reduced from 24 to 12, and integrated body and assembly plants have been established at both Cowley and Longbridge.
The reorganization at Cowley heralded the, introduction two years ago of the Marina, which is now second to the Ford Cortina as Britain’s best selling car. The changes at Longbridge will bear fruit this week with the launch of the long awaited small Austin, code-named ADO 67, which will eventually supersede the 1100/1300 range.
Another important new Austin model, in the medium range, is likely to be ready next Year. Some Austin Morris cars are to be phased out, although the 14-year-old Mini, Which last autumn became the first British model to pass the three million production figure, will continue. In the next five years Leyland’s main investment will be in its smaller specialist companies: Rover, Triumph and Jaguar. Rover and Triumph, which were separate companies until well into the 1960s, will be run as a single unit and will cease to compete with each other, as they do at present with their respective 2000s.
Rover will concentrate on quality saloons from roughly two litres, onwards. Triumph will make smaller high performance saloons and there will be a new sports car programme covering both Triumph and MG. Lord Stokes is confident that future sports models’ will meet government safety requirements, particularly in the United States.
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