Just the job
THOUSANDS of new jobs will be created in Oxfordshire with the launch of Rover’s new Cowley-built executive car.
Around 1,000 will be taken on at Rover’s Cowley car plant with another 5,000 jobs being created among component suppliers – an estimated 2,500 of those in Oxfordshire.
The big new luxury car, codenamed the R40, will secure the future of the plant where production will more than double.
Rover expect to be producing more than 100,000 R40s a year, within a year of its launch in 1999. The car is expected to spearhead a drive to re-establish Rover as a major exporter of luxury cars to the USA. Its launch could also lead to a re-branding of the car plant as Rover Group Oxford, distancing the new car from previous lack-lustre models produced at Cowley such as the Maestro and Montego.
It is the first new Rover model to be totally designed and engineered in Britain for 25 years. Insiders say it will hark back to the best days of Rover’s heritage, with plenty of wood and leather trim matched by the latest technology.
It is also the first model to be produced entirely under the ownership of BMW, which has repeatedly said the car will have an in-built “Britishness”. The car, which is being built to BMW’s exacting quality standards, is designed to re-establish Rover among the world-class prestige luxury car makers, going head-to-head with Mercedes-Benz and Audi.
Rover Group chairman and chief executive Walter Hasselkus said: “This new vehicle is important to the continuation of this British success, so it has been decided that the British International Motor Show in October is the appropriate venue for the car’s show debut. “The R40 will represent the modern vision of Rover and the excellence of British design.”
BMW has pumped more than £250m into new assembly lines, paintshop and a vehicle preparation area for the production of the new car. Insiders say the executive car, which will blend styling drawn from the British car maker’s heritage with state-of-the-art engineering, is the best ever produced by Rover.
An insider said: “It is so beautiful. It’s drop dead gorgeous. When you see it, you’ll want to own it.” Rover’s managing director at Cowley , Doug Dickson , said production of the car has secured the plant’s future. He said: “We have invested £250m to effectively build a brand new factory within a factory. With the state-of-the-art facilities, and the skill and enthusiasm of our people, we are confident that we will deliver a truly world-class car.
“I am proud to be part of the design and manufacturing team delivering this important car.”