Essay : Is the world ready for the Rover’s return?

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Editor’s Note: Published below is an article that appeared earlier this week in the Birmingham Post, written by one of the title’s most established journalists, Enda Mullen. In the piece, Enda looks objectively at the arguments for and against the Rover name making a comeback. 

The article is published word-for-word as it appeared in the paper, and is intended to fuel debate, so let’s all remain sensible in the comments section, please.

Thanks to the Birmingham Post and to Enda himself for his personal permission to reproduce the article.

You can view the original piece here.

Speculation is rife the once-proud Midland brand could return after its collapse ten years ago. The Birmingham Post’s Enda Mullen talks to experts about whether it could ever happen…

Could the historic Rover brand be revived as part of Jaguar Land Rover’s plans to expand its model range?

 

Could the Viking longship make a comeback? Discuss...
Could the Viking longship make a comeback? Discuss…

As the resurgent Midland carmaker goes from strength to strength, it’s a question frequently posed by everyone from enthusiasts to industry analysts, though cynics might say it’s a vain hope rather than a revival with any real prospect of coming to fruition.

While Jaguar Land Rover [JLR] has said nothing to indicate it’s something that’s in the pipeline, it does own the rights to the name, thanks to a shrewd bit of business by Ford when it acquired Land Rover in 2000. So, is talk of a revival anything more than wild speculation?

The debate was fuelled last year by Automotive News’  Engineering and Technology Reporter [and AROnline’s  US Editor] Richard Truett when, following a visit to the rapidly expanding Land Rover plant in Solihull, he wrote: “I can see no other way for JLR to increase its volume much higher than around 600,000 units a year without a mass-market upscale brand to challenge Volkswagen, BMW, Alfa, Acura, Infiniti and other mid-level marques. With a line-up of Rover, Jaguar, Land Rover and Range Rover, the company can finally become what was envisioned in the late 1960s.”

Adding a new brand to its range would on one level make sense for Jaguar Land Rover. There is no disputing the carmaker needs to grow if it is to pose a serious challenge to rivals and simply adding a marque would provide a platform. There is also kudos in the Rover name, a once proud and respected automotive marque that produced classics like the P4, P5 and P6, the SD1 and 75. In a country like China, where there is undoubted fondness for British brands, the Rover name might well have some mileage, something evidenced by SAIC, which now owns MG.

Roewe 750 was a hot topic in November 2006
The Roewe 750 proves that the brand could still have a future in rapidly developing markets such as China

With JLR owning the Rover name it simply launched a Chinese brand called Roewe – in a clear attempt to tap into the Rover’s automotive heritage. Birmingham Post columnist David Bailey, Professor of Industrial Strategy at Aston Business School, believes Rover could be revived. He said: “There has been speculation for several years that Tata might revive the Rover brand in some way. Tata has consistently denied this, stating that the Tata brand will be used on its small to medium-sized cars worldwide.

“It’s true the Rover brand in the UK itself would prove difficult to revive due to the memory of the collapse ten years ago, but in Europe and around the world – notably in Asia – the brand still has significant recognition and potential. Recall that [SAIC Group] was reported to have offered several million for the Rover brand. It was hoping to badge cars as Rovers in the Chinese and Asian markets. This could have been a success as the Rover brand still has a degree of recognition and even prestige in those markets.

Professor Bailey added: “Such markets know it for its British heritage and the quality cars it produced throughout much of the 20th century. Tata announced last year that it would be seeking to enter the Chinese market, but has no recognisable brand as such. Reviving the Rover brand for its cars there may make sense for its small and medium-sized cars.

The collapse of Rover in the UK and negative media impact undoubtedly impacts any chance of a UK return...
The collapse of Rover in the UK and negative media impact undoubtedly impacts any chance of a UK return…

“Note as well that JLR and its partner Chery agreed as part of the joint venture to build cars under a completely new brand in China as well as under Jaguar and Land Rover brands – might that be Rover? Probably not as it’s too close to their Land Rover and Range Rover brands. Tata using the brand is more likely if it happens at all. Will it happen? Tata so far has said no. But never say never – the ‘Rover’s return’ may not be such a bad thing for Tata’s hopes of expansion in Asian markets at least.”

Some feel the Rover brand is too tainted and toxic to be revived, conjuring up images of the bad old days of British Leyland, when strikes seemed to be taking place every other week and quality and reliability were serious issues. Automotive author and historian Martyn Nutland, who wrote a biography of Leonard Lord, the man who built Longbridge into an automotive powerhouse in the early 20th century, thinks a Rover revival unlikely.

Mr Nutland said: “I think the ethos, the charisma attached to these old British makes is history and history that’s growing dimmer. I don’t think any customers today would make any connection between the values that Rover once stood for and a modern vehicle and thus respond in some viable economic way. Look what happened to the Austin brand. It was eventually dropped not only because the ‘Austin’ of BMC and BL infamy was a by-word for poor quality and mediocrity but because it had ceased to have any relevance with the public.

“Mention Austin now and not even the Seven strikes a chord – only the original Mini, if you’re very lucky, stirs some recollection. Similarly, I feel with Rover. I don’t think that last 75, that wasn’t a very popular car anyway, stimulated any connection with the ‘proper’ 75 of the P3 and P4 series.”

Mr Nutland’s view is one shared by Ian Donaldson, Chairman of the Midland Group of Motoring Writers, who said: “Trying to revive a automotive name is nearly always a bad idea. People are either too young to remember the cars – and so have no attachment to them – or old enough to recall when they were, like all older cars even in their heyday, much more unreliable and less fun to drive than a good modern car.

“In the case of Rover, it had once been a name associated with comfortable cars for comfortably off middle class owners but long before its demise the badge was stuck on the rump of a deeply undistinguished collection of forgettable machines. Reviving a brand is also a very expensive business. Mercedes is still licking its wounds after the failure of the Maybach name to make a credible return as a rival for the likes of Rolls-Royce and Bentley. Rover is best left as an interesting footnote in the motoring history books.”

A more optimistic note was sounded by author Mike Gould, who believes the Rover name might have been damaged but still has life in it. Mr Gould, whose book – The Rover Group: Company and Cars – is due to be published in May, said: “2015 marks the 10th anniversary of the collapse of MG Rover. While now surrounded in acrimony, it must be said that the Phoenix Four did keep the company going for five years but did they damage the Rover brand irreparably in the process.

 

Former Rover and Land Rover press man Mike Gould, whose boo
Former Rover and Land Rover press man Mike Gould, whose book about the demise of MG Rover is due for publication later this year

“Jaguar Land Rover is rapidly approaching a crossroads. While undoubtedly a major British success story, the company is still a minor player in world terms. Should it now consolidate its position as a maker of luxury cars and SUVs or strive for more volume? So, it is conceivable that the Rover brand could be revived to sit on a new crop of smaller cars created to boost JLR’s volumes – and hence its worldwide presence – without damaging the premium positioning of the Jaguar and Land Rover nameplates.

“This would improve JLR’s economies of scale in component supply as well as enhancing the cash flow of the dealer network while providing a cushion if the market for prestige vehicles falls off – which could happen given the economic concerns in some of JLR’s major markets. Other manufacturers have done this of course – Mini is but one example as the model was initially seen as a lead-in to the main BMW brand.

“So, if I was a member of JLR’s executive committee, I would be certainly be blowing the dust of a Rover badge and turning it over in my hand. But, a fair proportion of them are German and/or ex-BMW so memories of ‘The English Patient’ of the 1990s might come flooding back. Even so, it would be nice to see cars bearing the Rover ‘Longship’ logo rolling off the Solihull production lines again.”

Maybe... just maybe, it isn't?
Maybe… just maybe, it isn’t?

176 Comments

  1. Wasn’t the Jaguar name tainted by unreliable products in the seventies and yet survived and prospered in spite of almost going under in 1980? I’m sure the Rover name could make a comeback on a segment C car aimed at Audi A3 buyers, but with the option of a small estate, hatchback and MPV. Using links to Land Rover in promotion, with maybe a four wheel drive version on offer, would really help sales.

    • Unreliable yes, but always highly desirable, which can’t be said the likes of the 25 and CityRover, which were bog standard hatchbacks

      • They werent bog standard hatch backs, they were actually quite nice. Quite, Comfortable, good performance, and nice to look at. they might have been dated in styling near the end, but they aged well. alex

  2. Too tainted. Still too much of the whiff of beige cardigan, driving gloves and a tin of travel sweets about the brand as well as the link to flogging way out of date motors for far too long before the end.

    Maybe it’ll work overseas but not here.

    Nil cachet even of it makes up one half of the Land/Range Rover name.

    • I fear you’re right. The most recent association of the Rover name in the public imagination remains that with Alan Partridge. His creator very deliberately chose a Rover for him to drive because the name now stands as a cipher for a Little England persona. It’s a horrible shame considering some of the great cars that bore the Longship. Digging the brand back out of that perception sounds like enormous work – although the imminent relaunch of the ‘Viva’ name suggests that at some point mere unfashionability can be overcome by nostalgia for a name.

  3. In my heart, I’d love it to succeed and Rover to stand for what it stood for back in the brand’s heyday. A modern day P6 would be just the technological tour de force that the resurgent JLR would excel at producing, too. Or a quality compact car that would replicate what the R8 was 25 years ago.

    Realistically, though? I can’t see the public embracing the Rover name. The proof that people outside of our circle still remember the brand’s very public demise, despite a decade under the bridge, suggests a comeback could be tough – it certainly didn’t work for SAAB, which is another great brand I miss dearly…

  4. You’d have to be extremely careful how you reintroduced the Rover brand name.

    BMW managed to resurrect the Mini name into a very desirable brand, even though you could say that the Mini name was also tainted by the same malaise that permeated many of the products of British Leyland. Don’t forget that Jaguar, Range Rover, Austin/Morris, MG et al all had their problems.

    Maybe if it’s that long ago that the younger buyers don’t know the baggage of the Rover name, they may buy on the product in front of them, not on the history of the name.

    Unfortunately, I think that, knowing the British media, they’d kill it before it ever had a chance to succeed.

    • BMW managed to make MINI successful as it was seen not as a budget economy car of old, but as a modern sports hatch/coupe.

      The BMW brand didn’t exactly hinder sales either, when you can say down the pub “Ah, but BMW make them…”. Subtle hints such as the German numberplates on PR photos drove this home.

      Also the BMW Marketing Department is second only to the VW Group’s in persuasiveness.

  5. How many brands have been brought back? Talbot and, er…

    SAIC didn’t see fit to reintroduce the 75 so there might be a niche. I think there is a market for wood/leather/chrome without a gloomy Germanic black interior but given the move to SUV’s a new Rover might have to be more than a conventional saloon.

    Given the ex-Rover people now working on Tata cars you never know…

    Flipping heck, I worked in the same division as Mike in the late 80s and, apart from a few grey hairs, he hasn’t aged a bit…

    • The Audi brand resurrected by Auto Union in the late 60s when the DKW F102 switched to a four stroke engine to create the Audi 72.

      And VW recreated Bugatti.

      • Correct, and since it was Mercedes who were sole owner of DKW at the time, it is safe to say that Audi was recreated by Mercedes in the 1960s! I am not too sure if they want to be reminded of this all too often…

      • @ Engineer

        Nit-picking, perhaps, but the Bugatti brand was revived by Romano Artioli with the EB110 model sold 1991-5. But they did go bust, if that’s satisfying….

  6. What would be the point? JLR are throwing everything at Jaguar at the moment – XE on sale shortly, new XF later this year and the F-Pace next year. Why disturb this momentum to try and bring Rover back to life. It’s been dead 10 years now and was on life support for the previous 10. It would be a complete waste of time and effort. If Jaguar responds to the current shock treatment and there is every reason to believe it will, it can easily be moved into other market segments – as proved many years ago by BMW and Mercedes.

  7. I feel certain that Rover could be reintroduced successfully if, and only if, the marque is relaunched with a car that upholds the very best of past Rovers; innovation, elegance, desirability and performance. I don’t feel that Rover would predominantly appeal to “the elderly” but if it did surely with an aging population they’d be some volume sales!

    Let’s look at Rover’s history in an upbeat manner, JET1 based on the P4, P6 the first Car of the Year, SD1 another Car of the Year, R8 which sold impressively, 75 which showed how to style a car with beautiful proportions and a car that appeals across all generations – the SD1 Vitesse TP. Imagine a television advert with snippets of Rover’s best; Sir Stirling Moss driving JET 1 at Jabbeke, P6s and SD1s rallying, COTY award pictures of the P6 and SD1. More modern Rovers won awards which could be included too, e.g. 600 won an award in Italy for the most beautiful car.

    If Skoda, who were famous for building outdated rear wheel drive cars, can become the marque it is now then there must be much more than hope for Rover.

    JLR is riding high and has demonstrated very clearly to the world that they can make desirable and well-engineered vehicles. A Rover executed properly by JLR could be the volume vehicle range that’s needed.

    Let’s not forget, Land Rover/Range Rover has been carrying the name all the time. Therefore Rover is not quite a dead/dormant marque.

    JLR – it can be done!

    • I tend to agree – Skoda’s rapid turnaround by VW is an example of how perfect product delivery combined with massive advertising can change brand perception very quickly. I’m not sure JLR would have the resources, but I do think it’s feasible.

      If it did ever happen, Rover would need to tread a very fine line between using their history and avoiding the mistakes of the recent past. The P6 would be a good reference, as would the SD1 – fast, sporting, comfortable. In other words ‘a grown-up younger persons car’, not an old persons car. The P5B Coupe could also (just) be a reference, although sporty doesn’t really apply there.

      However, seems to me ‘a grown-up younger persons car’ is basically Jaguars positioning, so I’m not sure there’s much room in the market, or whether the cost would outweigh the benefits.

  8. If Volkswagen can turn Skoda around from the butt of jokes to what it is today than it should be possible for JLR to revive Rover as a brand (so long as its revival is well executed), also the absence of MG would mean that a revived Rover brand can now enter more sportier / performance orientated territory pitched below Jaguar instead of being held back (and even handicapped) as comfort orientated cars that looked too much to the past as was the case under BMW and MG Rover.

    • Yes, Skoda went from a joke car to a car with a reliable reputation – however, Skod’s link with its past was broken cleanly. Skoda never had a quality image so it just didn’t matter that New Skoda = a cheaper VW.

      I’m really not sure about JLR using the Rover badge on its 2.0 litre and under models.

      Rover’s image has been bashed about too much and the 1990s, not the 1960s, are still in most people’s memory of course so the word, ‘Rover,’ means a re-badged Honda at best. Then at worst a re-heated Montego and a cynical attempt to make people forget how rotten an Austin Metro was.

      If I was a JLR Director I’d commission a vox-pop to see if people think of 1990s Rovers as either a 75 or a Montego/Metro. If most people associate Rovers with what was Austin-Rover then it would obviously be unwise use the Rover name.

      Possibly Rover could be attached to a type of MPV in terms of, ‘Land-Rover,’ (without the Land).

      If JLR are planning to launch a range of BMW-type cars then, of course, it would be wrong to call them Jaguars.

      Triumph would be the way to go, has a certain coolness as well because of Triumph motorbikes. Nobody thinks, ‘Acclaim,’ when you say Triumph and a laurel badge can look pretty good, too.

      Now surely nobody thinks it would be wise to use the Wolseley name! Would just make anyone born after 1980 think, ‘woosey’ !

      • BMW own the Triumph name/marque/brand/name-plate (whatever) so that’s out of the question, then.

        The Rover name is a bit toxic for a few different reasons and calling the smaller JLRs a Jaguar is silly. Like the X-Type it ended up branded as, ‘…a fancy Ford with rust…’

        To balance heritage with a clean name, how’s about, ‘Herald.’ The new JLR Herald Vitesse on the high-line model and JLR Herald 180 on the mainstream.

        Can anyone better Herald?

        The winner gets a 1968 BL wing badge! (You know, the BL round logo that looked like a big-end bearing on a B-Series shattering!).

  9. It would only take Jeremy Clarkson to start his sneering and the Top Gear generation would laugh at a new Rover. However, Clarkson seems so addicted to 200 mph cars that only a rich idiot could enjoy, that I think most people would take no notice of his opinions.
    Rover as a brand isn’t just dated 25s and the City Rover.

    The 75 always had a good following and was well liked by those who owned them (and still do) and the 600 from the Nineties was a well-liked upmarket rival to a Ford Mondeo and well remembered by its owners. Plus the K-Series is dead, so a new Rover would use new engines from JLR and banish the old chestnut about HGF. Also, so what if most of the buyers would be over 45, this is where most of the disposable income is in this country and I’m sure a C-segment Rover with traditional values would sell very well to this group.

    • Yup, that’s right, why not do EXACTLY what caused Rover to shut down in the first place: indulge ourselves by building old-fashioned cars! You say that over-45s will buy cars with “traditional values”. Well, a 45-year-old was born in 1970; they probably spent their youth going to all-night raves. The idea that anybody that kind of age will buy a car with walnut interiors and retro styling, in the year of Grace 2015, is laughable. Look at how much better Jaguar are doing since they dragged their “design language” out of 1968!

      Incidentally, Clarkson is neither obsessed with supercars or biased against Rover. He slagged them for the reason that people stopped buying them.

      • I recall episodes of Top Gear where Clarkson was quite complimentary towards the SD1 and the Rover V8 engine. He has regularly heaped praise on modern Land Rovers and Range Rovers.

      • Oi! I was born in 1970 and still do the rave and house music. I drive a Sovereign X-Type estate and the Mrs drives a 75 – both with walnut and leather. Rather blows that theory out of the water. Not all of us want dull silver teutonic blando-boxes that have no character or individuality. I don’t want to stare at a black dashboard while sitting on hard seats either, I want to be pampered.

        Some of us ravers want a new Rover!

        So get on with it JLR, bring back the Viking.

    • So challenge the gobdaw Clarkson, ask him how he would market JLR’s BMW alternatives.

      What Jeremy Clarkson does is behave like a tabloid Editor when dealing with politics. He watch what’s the most base popular trend or mood and just blows his mouth off about it. Clarkson is not a trend-setter, he is a trend-seeker.

  10. Just a thought, is the Vitesse model name with JLR? I hope it as I agree with Nate above regarding performance models. A sharp suited, innovative Rover Vitesse would be very appealing!

    • Not sure if JLR or BMW owns the Vitesse name, though it didn’t stop Bugatti from producing the Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse.

  11. JLR aren’t going to produce a bog standard volume car, they don’t have the necessary platform, and TATA certainly don’t.

    If they want to produce something smaller, then either it would be based on the XE platform, a sort of RWD 1 series type car which logically would take the Jaguar badge, as a premium RWD car, or they would base it on the current/replacement Evoque/Disco Sport platform, and such a vehicle would most likely be a smaller SUV, which whether people here like them or not, are what the public wants. I can’t see the benefit of not calling this a Land Rover or Range Rover something, when the marques have such cachet.

    • ….. but as I’ve said below Rover could be closely linked to Range Rover, Land Rover. It could simply be an addition for smaller vehicles.

    • Well, according to an article headlined “Land Rover plots two baby SUVs” by AUTOCAR’s Deputy Editor, Mark Tisshaw, in the 31st December, 2014 issue, Jaguar Land Rover’s new iQ[Al] platform “would be unsuitable for a B-segment SUV. So whatever the solution, new or heavily-modified architecture would be needed.”

      Tisshaw adds: “The need to spread the [cost of that] architecture across more models also tantalisingly raises the prospect of it being used on a range of compact Jaguar models to sit below the XE.”

      AUTOCAR claims that the business case for the two baby SUVs “is stronger than ever” so the question which Jaguar Land Rover should, perhaps, now be asking is this: would introducing a range of Jaguar-badged B and/or C-segment models dilute the image and value of the Jaguar marque and, if so, would the positives of launching them with a Rover badge outweigh any negatives?

      My informed guess is that Jaguar Land Rover may well have already conducted a significant amount of market research in order to find the answer to that question…

      • I don’t think there really would be any negatives if the promotion succeeded in linking Rover to Land Rover, Range Rover rather than associating it with MGR and the events of 2005.

      • In the United States, the Mercedes-Benz CLA seems to be winning over people who typically buy mass-market cars like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Though Mercedes-Benz is a strong brand which can take the hit, other manufacturers may not be so certain that a downmarket expansion won’t tarnish their brand image.

        Clearly JLR’s main objective now is to grow Jaguar with models like the F-Pace and XE. If that’s a success, they might choose to just expand Jaguar downmarket into the C- and B-segments rather than revive Rover. However, the Jaguar brand image is not as strong as Mercedes’ or BMW’s and JLR has bitter experience from the X-Type. Would another FWD Jaguar, now sharing a platform with a small C- or B-segment Land Rover, be an expansion too far?

        The F-Pace is an interesting development because it’s an expansion of Jaguar into the realm of SUVs, formerly considered the domain of Land Rover. If it’s a success, JLR might feel more confident about giving Land Rover a low-riding FWD/AWD car.

        • German brands are typically “leased” in the US, over 70% of BMWs are privately leased. Company cars are less common in the US.

          IMHO most of them end as CPO used cars or they are leased again as as used cars.

          The cost of ownership of German cars once the warranties expire probably puts many buyers off.

          The S class, Audi A8 and BMW 7-8 series tend to end up at a deep discount for sale on those gravel parking lot used car dealers in a less desirable part of town.

          IMHO the only plus I can see is that Rover is part of the name, the last time they sold them here was as Sterlings anyway. If they build a car they should stay out of the volume car business, a FWD mid-size car to not compete with Jaguar.

        • The F-Pace will be very different to Land Rovers, very much road orientated, much lower and basically designed to never be taken off road! A Porsche Cayenne-type vehicle (but better looking).

  12. I think the Rover brand can and will come back. Some could say that the public “wouldn’t buy it” but there is an interesting parallel here with MG. My opinion about MG is that, on the face of it, the cars aren’t all that bad (we don’t know for sure though do we because they haven’t sold enough to tell). The MG is a brand with tradition but, in my opinion, it is let down because the public knows where the car comes from and they aren’t ready for Chinese cars (and didn’t buy it).

    Rover to 1995 had a terrible time (with MG to 1995 included), whereas JLR have done a tremendous job of making some excellent vehicles in recent years, but have priced themselves upmarket. BTW, I like the XF but it isn’t different enough to the XJ. Note the Freelander 1 was let down by its Rover petrol engines, but the Freelander 2 is a very well-respected car (how good is the public’s memory?).

    I think the public would see the truth in any New Rover (2016+) as a New Rover from JLR and not a Rover from the 90s (same as they are aware of the source of the MGs and same as they forgive the Freelander). But I think JLR would need to be a little more careful than the VAG Group have been (VAG Group that makes me laugh even VW logo suits that).

    Anyway, the Rover should be a sub=brand and aimed at the small to medium cars. Strangely, I was looking at the XF the other day, and it has shades of SD1 about its lines I think. Perhaps JLR could buy the Chinese MGs and rebadge them – if they are a good car.

  13. I was thinking about a possible revival of the Rover marque only a week ago. Yes, really – when I saw the images of the new generation Ford GT40 which is hardly a pastiche of the original. Instead, Ford’s designers have taken inspiration from the original but have created something which really is a contemporary design theme.

    I suddenly wondered what a contemporary version of the 1965 Rover-BRM Gas Turbine Le Mans race car would like if given the same opportunity, albeit it built around a modified Jaguar XK/F-Type platform. I thought this because the Rover-BRM, rather like the P6-based T4 and stillborn P9, was born to serve an innovative engineering function, yet still managed to exude timeless form and immense presence.

    Under the bonnet (or even behind the seats) of this new Rover ‘Le Mans’ could be a high performance turbocharged 2-litre Ingenium 4-cylinder petrol engine mated up to a manual box. It could be built in low numbers by the Special Vehicles Operation.

    The key question that became apparent was: would such a car command a lot of appeal from buyers, regardless of the name on the bonnet? A big part of me thought “Yes”, based on the product oozing desirability and high levels of quality and reliability (something Jaguar Land Rover still needs to work on, if the recent findings of the What Car? survey are anything to go by in relation to Land Rover). This would be supported by some creative marketing. All in all, a kind of Alfa Romeo 4C alternative.

    True, Rover does come with some tarnished baggage, but it also has some inspiring moments to reflect on, too. And, as the article highlights, the brand does still command a lot of affection in quite a few key export markets. Clearly, it is more important to judge the brand’s possible success and commercial viability on the wider world stage than in just a tiny island called the United Kingdom.

    Forget the retro ideology and instead focus on contemporary avantgarde styling as in the P6-based T4, aforementioned Rover-BRM Le Mans Race car, P6 Series 1, P9 design concept, SD1 and CCV design concept. Remember the driving appeal of the P6 3500S and SD1 Vitesse and 800 Vitesse Sport, and recapture the sense of well-being of models such as the P4, P5 and R40 75. Perhaps even look at spawning a number of different bodystyle variants off the same core body underpinnings and frontal structure as the R8 200/400 successfully did. Remember the feeling of no-nonsense quality of the P4 and P5. Moreover, bring in some confident and innovative brand management and associated advertising. Forgive the pun, but “above all”, there must be an instant emotional warmth of a new Rover.

    When taken as a whole, the Rover product has to instantly convey an aspirational value, even though it will not be realistic to charge premium prices at the start – that would only be achieved in the long term based on all the aforementioned objectives being consistently achieved and the product also being backed up by a quality dealer network who value customers and offer excellent aftersales service too.

    • I would posit that the avantgarde styling, performance, and premium/luxury air you refer to are already present in the modern range of Land Rovers, Range Rovers in particular. Looking at the interior of an SD1, my mind immediately jumps to the current generation of the Range Rover Sport. The elegant simplicity of the 1960s/70s/80s Rovers seems to have been inherited by Land Rover. Now that the market for luxury SUVs has exploded, the RRS Supercharged and SVR are the modern day successors of the V8-powered fast Rovers of yesteryear.

      Any new Rover which is in the spirit of that era would fit like a glove in the current Land Rover range.

  14. As with anything, with a bit of good quality and imaginative marketing, combined with a good product Rover could be great again. Look at Skoda for example, a maker of dreadful, ugly, unreliable tat bought by VAG and made into a respectable and decent line up of cars, same goes for SEAT, a Spanish maker of naff old Fiat castoffs made into an interesting and slightly sporting brand – if VAG can do it, so can JLR!!

    • More than a bit harsh on ‘old’ Skoda – they did rather well with almost zero resources, (lazy recycled old VW Beetle jokes aside) before VAG won their battle with Renault to buy the brand in the early 1990s – only to then have their best engineers spirited away to work for Audi.

      Also important to remember that it took VAG many years to make Skoda acceptable to the greater unwashed public – it’s doubtful JLR would/could be minded to afford such an expensive luxury.

      As to SEAT, despite some good cars, they have lost a lot more money over many years for VAG than they ever made. They also still suffer with confusion about their identity – are they the Spanish Alfa Romeo VAG stated they wanted them to be, a budget ‘fun in the sun’ brand, or just a more mainstream maker of a typical range that includes people carriers?

      • We have a Leon, and have found it less reliable than the Saab – from some aspects, it reminds me of an Alfa 146.

        VW wanted the brand to be their Alfa – where are the sports saloons? All they’ve sorted was a secondhand Audi and a rebadged small Skoda. Where are the coupes? Where are the roadsters?

        I still don’t see how Seat loses money either – they’re everywhere and seem to be strong sellers. If MG sold as many vehicles as Seat they’d be deemed extremely successful.

    • Skoda a maker of dreadful, ugly, unrealiable tat? I’m sorry, but I disagree with that. Sur, Skoda wasn’t up to “Western standard” when they were bought by VAG, but there is a world outside the UK… In the former “Eastern block” Skoda was simply the best car you could buy, and the 1987 Favorit also one of the most modern cars anyone could buy over there…

      VAG bought Skoda to get access to those “new markets” back in the early Nineties. Never mind what we think, VAG only bought it because they wanted to continue the sales in those parts of the world… That part of the world still is Skoda’s most important marked in sales… Look beyond your little island please, there’s a whole world out that… A whole world that thinks British cars should not be trusted btw… Every 45 year old, born in 1970, can tell you that…

  15. I think a revival of Rover would be difficult if you’re talking reviving MGR, modern day 25s, 45s. However, if we’re talking a lower price, higher volume addition to the JLR range then I think a Rover revival is very possible –

    – Jaguar equals large executive saloon
    – Range Rover, Land Rover equals 4 wheel drive, off roader in various forms
    – Rover equals smaller saloon, closely linked to Land Rover and Range Rover.

    Buyers would make associations with Land Rover, Range Rover and not 45s.

  16. Here’s a thought – have Land Rover, Range Rover suffered any negative associations, image problems through having Rover in their name? Answer? No!!!!

  17. Oh, yes please! Bring back Rover, I would be the first to the showroom! I don’t think that a Rover revival would fail. With Tata and JLR at the helm, Rover would have strong management, they simply wouldn’t allow it to fail. The product placement and market insight of current Jaguar and Land Rover products is exemplary. If a new mass market brand was as expertly well placed and packaged as current Jags and Land Rovers, it wouldn’t matter what it was called!

  18. @ Dave Dawson, a 25-sized car wouldn’t work and anything smaller would bring back bad memories of the City Rover. Perhaps producing a 45-sized car in hatchback form (small saloons are dead in Britain now) with four wheel drive and plenty of mention, as you say, of the Land Rover link. My idea would be a Subaru-style C-segment car, but without the raucous image of a Subaru Impreza, a car with traditional Rover values of a comfortable drive and well-appointed interior but with Land Rover four-wheel-drive practicality.

  19. Yes. I’d like a 2-litre P22 tourer on my drive by Easter, please. Preferably in admiralty blue with a sandalwood interior. Ideally, also with a 6 speed manual gearbox, with a freewheel, and petrol reserve tank.

  20. The MG brand was resurrected and everybody on this site seems positive about that. So why should it be any different if Rover were re-born? There are a lot of new car buyers who still like to buy British or Made in Britain, to support UK PLC.

  21. 10 years down the road after the unfortunate event of 2005, what does the brand name
    Rover actually convey in the mind of the general public and potential car buyer?

    • Well, in the ’80s Rovers were driven by Prime Ministers and Skodas were an international joke. If Skoda can do it, surely Rover can (having said that, Skoda is regarded as a competent but bog-standard marque, whereas I am guessing that a resurrected Rover would be aimed between lower-end BMWs/Audis/Lexus and higher-end Vauxhalls/Fords).

      • Yes, in the early 1980s Maggie T was driven around in a Rover P5B because she had the MoD find a small fleet of P5B’s – because she wouldn’t be seen dead in an SD1.

        It’s a very different reaction people will give to a Rover P6 or P5B compared to an SD1 or later Japanese Rovers.

        It has been too long since the real Rover was a good car – let’s face it money was £.s.d when Rover had a quality image and reputation!

        As for the Skoda argument, it did not matter in marketing terms because Skoda was not meant to be a quality car in the first place.

        Skoda evolved from being a zero-resources Communist car to a budget but well built VW.

        People don’t think of a modern Skoda as anything of the same family of the 1980s Skodas, it’s just the budget VW that happens to be built in the former Skoda factory.

        Rover’s name is rocky and if it can be assumed that JLR are aiming to match BMW in terms of performance and driving pleasure then even the heritage part of Rover’s image also does not suit.

        Some will talk of the Rover name because of a design link to Longbridge (or even if some sort of major manufacturing facitily is re-started there.)
        But, in the mind of the wider public, it would not matter to them if JLR’s BMW cars are badged as Triumphs and that is somehow wrong because Longbridge was not a Triumph factory.

        When Rovers were made at Longbridge it was not during Rover’s golden era. I don’t see any real link about Longbridge and Rover. However, if you badge the BMW line of JLRs as Rovers many people will see a Rover-Longbridge link for all the wrong reasons.

  22. I’ve been thinking this for years. A modern Golf/Focus rival, nothing retro but with a connect to the Rover/Land Rovers marques – modern interpretation of the grille, clam shell bonnet, floating roof. Make it handle well, not too comfort based. When Rover produced a good car it sold, they just need a great one and JLR are the ones to do it. I’m first in the queue if it ever happens.

  23. Regarding JLR and smaller cars, I expect a Jaguar-badged 1-Series/A3/A-Class rival in the next few years. It wouldn’t surprise me if it were in development now.

    The thought of Jaguar producing such a thing makes me feel slightly ill, but mark my words it will happen. Small car with a Jag badge. Not a Rover badge.

    • There is at least one Ford Focus-sized Jaguar that is very heavily paint disguised to be seen regularly driving about in the Warwickshire countryside. I have seen it/them often. Maybe there is something in this?

  24. @ Will HC, a Focus-sized car would work best, as a four door Mondeo-sized saloon would overlap with the Jaguar XE and steal sales and medium-sized saloons are mostly dead now. It has to avoid being retro – Jaguar finally stopped pretending it was 1968 when the XF came out and sales took off – but have the traditional Rover values of comfort, reliability, driving ability and well appointed interiors. Somehow offering the car as either a two-wheel-drive in turbodiesel and petrol form, and offering a four-wheel-drive estate option, could do very well.

    Also an earlier comment about 45 year olds being the rave generation, most of them probably grew out of it when they were 20 and a lot of people I knew who grew up then hated that music. I’m sure not many people in their mid-forties now would want to race round in a small hatchback playing ear-splitting music and probably have families as well.

    • I suppose not many of my age have a 3dr ZR as their daily drive. However, due to my situation ( 46yrs old, separated with only my daughter to frequently transport) a ZR is all I need. I do very much enjoy my small hatch! I’d sure miss it if forced to change to a people carrier or SUV or something else more practical. I don’t play rave music though!!

    • Hello, I was simply giving the rave music as an example! My point was that middle-aged middle-class people in the 2010s have radically different tastes to their parents; thus cars with retro styling would have limited appeal.

        • With a clutch operating mechanism that works and a head gasket not made from Plasticine.
          I went through the Rover 75 clutch trial a few months ago on a friends diesel 75. By the end of it I was seriously tempted to stick a Marina badge on it.

    • I know it is, Glenn. I was just thinking how I don’t fit your comment of “I’m sure not many people in their mid-forties now would want to race round in a small hatchback.”

      • More than you’d think. The notion that 40 somethings drive saloons is based upon company car drivers who select from a narrow band of models selected by the lease firm.

  25. To me Jaguar is different to Mercedes and BMW, the badge just doesn’t belong on small family cars. I also suspect that refraining from stretching the brand may ultimately be a huge advantage to Jaguar competing in the premium space against these rivals.

    On the other hand Tata has the capacity and probably feels the need to compete in the segments below Jaguar.

    Perhaps the VAG alternative of separately positioned brands makes the most sense, not least for the customers. It is after all just a repetition of Alfred P Sloan’s General Motors strategy.

    The Rover brand, of course, spawned Land Rover and Range Rover in the first place and in that sense is a natural fit.

    But I think the Triumph brand would have immeasurably greater potential: with sporty connotations that Rover never had, even in its RWD heyday. Robert Ludlam gave his heros “Triumph sports cars” as their steeds for a reason!

    Although I have to admit that, in all the confusion, I’ve lost track of where ownership of the Triumph brand ended up? On the other hand, if necessary, how much could it cost to buy it back?

    But whether Rover or Triumph-badged, Tata/JLR have a huge opportunity to add smaller premium cars to their portfolio – as long as they do it right.

    They could be lucky, the world could just be ready for more distinctive alternatives to the vast Mercedes/BMW vast alphabet soup model ranges.

    • Would BMW be willing to part with owning the rights to the Triumph marque though?

      A revival of the Rover marque under JLR could potentially allow Tata to further work on becoming a budget mainstream Skoda / Dacia equivalent by the time it is ready to properly tackle developed markets, it would be a similar approach to VAG though, unlike the latter, more streamlined in terms of marques.

      • I can’t see a good reason why BMW would let a competitor have the Triumph brand.

        The other problem with the Triumph brand is that it is used on Motorcycles without the benefits of a joint “brand” company as for example Volvo brand has to manage the image and values for its owners.

        Back in the ’90s, I always thought that it would have been worth BMW making John Bloor and offer he could not refuse for Triumph motorcycles and create a “sub” BMW brand that would cover the market areas BMW has to now do with the MINI, 1-Series and <1 litre motorcycles.

  26. I think it is possible for the Rover brand to be revived. Time is the great healer, and 5 years from now there will be very few Austin Morris-built Rovers on the road. Memories of Rovers as badge-engineered Austins which came with HGF as standard will have faded.

    However, I feel that JLR will use its existing portfolio, loathe as I am to see the Jaguar badge on a Eurobox. Reading the article, I sense deja vu about JLR needing to increase its volume. Was that not the reason that BMW bought Rover in 1994? Apart from the addition of the Cowley Mini plant, BMW seems to have done very well since 2000 without a massive increase in volume.

  27. Triumph as a brand is too far back in the mists of time to be revived, same as BMW quietly ditched a plan to revive Riley in 1995 as the name meant almost nothing by then.

    Rover still is a brand people recognise and plenty of 75s are still on the road, mostly in good condition. In the pecking order, Rover was always one below Jaguar but above Austin, Morris and Triumph back in the day, so a sub-Jaguar Rover could work.

  28. If Rover were to make a comeback, it must not be applied to “me too” cars such are currently on sale , Mondeo, Insignia, BMW 3-Series, Audi A4 etc, I think it would have to apply to technically forward-thinking advanced cars such as the Prius or the Ampera, but with a few more touches such as Alex Moulton’s front-rear interconnected suspension.

  29. Much of the discussion here is from a UK perspective. If any Rover products were to be a success, 80% or so would need to be exported. When one looks at it from a USA perspective, applying the ROVER badge (i.e. removing “LAND”), makes perfect sense. Most Americans I know refer to LR products as “Rovers” – whilst this is commonly just a lazy shortening of the brand (a la refering to Mercedes as “Mercs”), the brand recognition is already there.

    JLR need to expand downwards to gain scale and add entry level products for people to move up from (think Audi A1, BMW 1-Series etc.). It makes perfect business sense to produce a supermini size RR and mini Disco model. However, this would require a new platform and hence much bigger scale then just 2 models could support. Whilst adding a small Jag compact and crossover would be a good idea, to get true economies of scale you need more volume still.

    It doesn’t seem to me that you can spin off another LR-type product from this type of platform (other than, say, a small Defender-type model which would be small numbers), other than by expanding “Land Rover” back into road cars as “Rover” – they could easily spin off from the same new platform a range of small premium cars such as a roadorientated crossover vehicle (a la Nissan Juke), and associated sedans and hatches (think MINI 5-door and possible forthcoming Hornet-type 4-door). This would add serious volume bringing down costs to make the LR and Jag versions adequately profitable.

    Please bring it on!

  30. I don’t think the XE platform can be scaled down. It’s too expensive. Audi tried a small aluminium car with the A2. Didn’t sell.

    The Rover name isn’t dead anyway. It’s on SUVs and that’s where it should stay.

    JLR are currently pushing their entry price up, not down. The XE sits higher in the market than the X-Type. The Discovery Sport higher than the Freelander. Think making money… JLR could not make a £20,000 car profitably, at least not in the UK. It has taken BMW and Daimler decades to inch their way down in size while still making money, with some clangers along the way. Elk test, anyone?

    After the mishap of the A2, Audi haven’t tried it. They did the obvious thing – sharing VAG platforms. An A1 and a Fabia have a lot in common. Talking of Skoda, the old Skodas were the only Iron Curtain cars, other than the rehashed old Fiats, that were worth selling in the West. The fact that they were worthy of sale was a great achievement by the Skoda engineering team.

    • Why?! Metro sold 1.5m in Britain in 17 years. Mini sold 1.6m in Britain in 41 years. Ok, so more were sold abroad, but Metro was a popular car.

        • I said Metros were a popular car in Britain – selling nearly as many in 17 years as the Mini did in 41 years. In Britain. Read what I said.

          • But a car company can’t survive on sales in just one country… As for the numbers, it’s not about how the number of cars that were sold, it’s about market share…

            After all, in 1959 not many people could afford a car. So the actual number of sales is lower, but a bigger percentage of car sales was a Mini – thus the original Mini was more succesful than the Metro 😉

          • The Metro held a position in the top 10 sales league for a respecatable % of its life span, the Mini sold in penny numbers for a significant % of the latter half of the 41 year life span.

          • The fact that the Metro was popular (and that in Rover form it was a decent car) is neither here nor there. Putting the Rover badge on the front of an Austin city car did huge damage to a brand that had already been eroded by the original 200 series.

            To make the Rover brand meaningful to the public again would take a significant effort on behalf of JLR. I’m struggling to see why they would want to risk their time and money on a new model that would be fighting against a tarnished brand from the beginning.

  31. As much as I admire anyone wanting the Rover brand to return I can’t see it, not for some while yet, and for the journo to state that JLR sales can’t/won’t go about 600,000, well, JLR sold 462,678 units this last year and, once the XE comes on stream they are expecting annual sales around the 100,000. The new XF will give some more sales, along with all the new plants coming on stream.

    600,000 sales will be an easy task, added to this, the all-new baby Rangie, and full new range of new Defenders, along with new Disco 5, refreshed Evoque, XJ, more F-Type varients and another Jaguar model that will slot below the XE (2022) JLR sales are expected to get beyond 750,000 within 4 years, and onto a million by the end of 2022.

    The Rover name was not “thanks to a shrewd bit of business by Ford”, but typical business, nothing shrewd about it at all, it was done to protect the Land Rover brand, nothing more, nothing less.

    IF, and it is a HUGE IF, the Rover brand comes back, it will be on a range of bespoke Chinese cars, as it is part of Chinese rules that car manufacturers have co-operation deals with home grown brands, and between them they have got to produce a joint venture brand of cars. This could be the Rover range, but what about Roewe? The shape of the badge, and the name is just toooooooooooooooo similar for the Roewe brand’s owner, SAIC Motor, to stand by and let it work.

  32. @ Jagboy, Well, if a new Focus-sized Jag aimed at Mercedes A-Class buyers comes along, then maybe there will be no need to reintroduce the Rover name. With high fuel prices and austerity in recent years, most manufacturers of premium brands have introduced successful smaller cars that have done well – think Mercedes A-Class (once a joke, now a very successful upmarket Focus rival), Audi A1, BMW Mini (once a single model, now a whole range of upmarket small cars).

    Although fuel prices have fallen again and the worst of the downturn is over, motorists who like an upmarket badge, but want low tax and economy well over 40 mpg, are likely to stay with these alternatives to B and C-segment cars from Ford and GM. Jaguar could really benefit from a presence in this sector as the market for thirsty, large Jags of old is nowhere near as profitable as a big-selling C-segment car.

  33. Some people have said that there would be limited recognition of the Rover marque among the buying public. I am not so sure of this. After all, one still sees many 25, 45 and 75 models about, and the latter, in particular, is a very distinctive car. I would have thought that, if you mentioned Rover to a younger buyer, the 75 would spring to mind, and I think this would be no bad thing.

    Perhaps this is just the classic car enthusiast in me talking, but perhaps advertising which emphasised the continuity between classics like the P5B, P6 and SD1 and some new Rover would be useful in selling it?

    Also, perceptions of brands change over time: in motoring, Skoda is an obvious one, but consider, for example, Aldi (perfectly acceptable for a doctor to go there now) or Waitrose (used to be thought of like Harrods; now a less-fancy Marks & Spencers). Surely people who dislike Rovers would be drawn to them if they produced a genuinely good car?

    Someone mentioned Triumph, and I have to say, were I choosing which to re-introduce, from a purely business perspective, while much preferring Rover cars myself, I would choose Triumph; the name has a certain resonance. It conveys the feeling of “a British BMW”.

    Why should JLR re-introduce Rover, though? The business case is that it could preserve Jaguar’s exclusive image, Jaguar producing grand saloons and supercars with the cachet of Mercedes-Benz, and Rover producing smaller saloons and hatchbacks with the cachet of Audi or Lexus; fancy cars, but a cut below. Of course, this is how British Leyland positioned them all those years ago…

  34. Well, speaking from an entirely personal perspective, I reckon that a persuasive case can be made for suggesting that a revived Rover could complement Jaguar in much the same way as Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s CEO, Sergio Marchionne, intends the revitalised Alfa Romeo to complement Maserati. See this recent CAR Magazine article for more information about FCA’s plans for a product-led Alfa Romeo revival.

    Indeed, a two or three-model Rover re-launch might arguably be less of a commercial risk for JLR than what some Automotive Industry analysts perceive to be FCA’s high-risk, nine-model plan for Alfa Romeo.

    • The difference being that Alfa has never gone away, and a new Rover should really be based on the same quality level as jaguar, therefore JLR will be making competition for themselves, and thats not good.

      However, if they moved Rover way down market, like Skoda to VW, like SEAT is to VW, Alfa is to FCA, both distict brands that bring something different to the parent company, would Rover be a suitable brand to go down market, or would Austin be the better bet?

      • My thoughts exactly. As it stands at the moment IMHO any revived marque name has to be on back to basic cars. There must still be a market for basic cars with steel wheels, keep fit windows, not such a great ICE package etc. and now that Kia, Hyundai etc. have moved upwards from their humble beginnings there must be room in the market for cheap, cheerful but modern cars which could bear the Austin or Morris nameplate. Think of something like an MG3 but given wind up windows, steel wheels, basic cloth trim and less sporty pretentions. Sold at a low price this could be the new Austin Metro/ Morris Minor.

        Of course, nobody wants to (or should have to) return to the days of Ladas, Skoda, FSOs etc. where cheap and cheerful meant woefully outdated but the likes of Dacia seems to be doing very nicely on recent outgoing Renault underpinnings so why can’t we make it work here? I realise things like labour costs are lower in many other countries but I, for one, wouldn’t mind paying that little bit extra for something genuinely, designed, developed, sourced and screwed together in this country, providing, of course, it is screwed together properly, there is a dealer close to where I live and it doesn’t cost the earth to run.

        As for the Rover name, I’m afraid that I can’t see a place in the marketplace for it at the moment. If JLR are feeling brave/ambitious with the Jaguar XE being launched into 3-Series territory perhaps there could be a downmarket version launched (think Audi A4-VW Passat-Skoda Octavia)as the Rover SD4 and then maybe later on a new Austin Cambridge/ Morris Oxford version. If VAG can stretch each of their platforms 4 ways (or more) then I’m sure with enough time, money and determination we can do the same here.

        • I think a small, cheap MPV based on MG mechanicals and badged as an Austin could work. Currently, there’s only the Dacia Logan in this market segment – something like a revived Austin Maxi(!) with the same Issigonis-style approach to maximising interior space might be a winner. Certainly seems more viable to me than reviving Rover.

  35. It could be brought back with enough investment, just as Skoda was. Can’t see it though. Apart from a few Rover enthusiasts (me included), I don’t think there’s the good will to do it, any more than there is for Austin or Morris. And if it did come back I wonder how close it would be to Rover’s traditional character. After all, the new MGs are a long way from their older namesakes.

  36. Just a couple of quick thoughts on how Jaguar Land Rover might significantly reduce the costs of developing a standalone B and/or C-segment architecture for the small SUV family mentioned in the AUTOCAR article referred to in my original post above and any B and/or C-segment Jaguar or even Rover models…

    1) enter into an agreement with Mazda Motor Corporation for the sharing of the SkyActiv architecture which underpins the Mazda2, Mazda3, Mazda CX-3 and Mazda CX-5 before or, perhaps, even if Sergio Marchionne and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (which already has a similar arrangement to share the new Gen 4 Mazda MX-5’s architecture) negotiates such a deal or, alternatively,

    2) enter into an agreement with Qoros Automotive Co., Ltd., for the sharing of the architecture which underpins the Qoros 3 model family. After all, Qoros Auto is a Joint Venture between Jaguar Land Rover’s own Chinese OEM Joint Venture partner, Chery Automobile Co., Ltd., and Singapore-based Kenon Holdings Ltd. (which was spun off from Israel Corporation Ltd. in January, 2015). Interestingly, the latter company was rumoured to have expressed concerns about Qoros Auto’s progress and so Kenon Holdings Ltd. might yet be open to an approach from Jaguar Land Rover. Indeed, if Jaguar Land Rover was to acquire all or part of Kenon Holdings’ stake in Qoros Auto – which would almost certainly require the prior approval of the Chinese Government – then one option might be for Qoros Auto to launch in the UK and Western Europe with the Rover badge.

    Mind you, the seemingly obvious option for Jaguar Land Rover would be to share a common B and C-segment architecture with the parent company, Tata Motors. However, apparently that strategy has been ruled out…

    • Well, by way of a postscript to my preceding comment, here’s a link to an updated article about Qoros Auto which Automotive News China has just published:

      Qoros hires former GM China chief as CEO

      Note, in particular, this extract: “The company [Qoros Auto] can produce about 150,000 vehicles a year in its factory outside of Shanghai, but sold 6,967 units last year in China, according to LMC Automotive data.”

      My guess is that highly-experienced former GM China man Phil Murtaugh will have been given a pretty tight time frame in which to turn the company around so a joint distribution agreement with a non-competing European OEM like Jaguar Land Rover could or, perhaps, should be on his agenda.

      Mind you, in an accompanying Comment piece, Automotive News China’s Managing Editor, Yang Jian, reckons that Qoros Auto “should focus on a market that offers the strongest growth prospects [and] that market is China.” However, the real cause for concern must be that “in the first three quarters of 2014, Qoros lost 1.4 billion yuan ($232 million). By the end of September, its debt approached 8.9 billion yuan, according to Caixin, a Beijing-based business magazine.” Here’s the link to that second article:

      COMMENT : Time for Qoros to ditch its global ambition and focus on China

  37. When JLR officials were here a few weeks ago for the Detroit Auto Show, I pulled aside Andy Goss, sales boss. I asked how JLR would meet its future emissions requirements if its sales continue to grow and JLR becomes a volume automaker.

    Would there be any consideration to reviving Rover, I asked. Would there be a car smaller than XE, I asked. Goss said no on both counts. I don’t think he was being coy.

    However… Having worked at Ford and knowing a little but how things work on the inside, I feel this is a likely scenario:

    Inside JLR: the total focus right now is completing the plan already underway: 50 product actions in the next 5 years. Every one must go out the door with world-class quality, design, performance, value, etc. That is the total focus of JLR RIGHT NOW.

    But somewhere in JLR’s forward looking 10-year plan, I believe there something on a page that simply says: “small car” or words or a codename to that affect.

    I believe no resources or manpower are being expended on whatever that range of small cars/vehicles may be. And so, JLR are being totally truthful when they say nothing is going on.

    However, BMW are the template in which JLR is recasting itself. That should be no surprise based on the number of Wolfgangs running the place — and doing a damn fine job.

    In 20 years, I believe there will be a range of vehicles with a different brand name below AND above Jaguar. The below brand may very well be Rover. The above brand: maybe Daimler. That decision won’t be made for many years.

    What could prove influential is that if, like Triumph, there remains a very active and passionate core of Rover owners/drivers/restorers who keep the cars on the road, and if people like me keep asking the question so that the Rover name comes into conversation somewhat frequently, like it did in the Birmingham Post article.

  38. It would be a complete and utter waste of time, energy and resources. Can you imagine the marketing effort needed to re-establish this decade-dead brand and educate buyers that the brand is completely different to the old Rover that they turned their backs on well over 10 years earlier? That’s before you start talking about establishing dealer networks and the like.

    Any Rover would no doubt share most of its engineering with Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles – so why not badge it as a Jaguar? – especially when you have recently spent Billions establishing Jaguar as a proper, European brand that is now mentioned in the same breath as BMW or Mercedes.

    • Well, yes, I really can’t imagine many beyond AROnline having a great desire to re-establish the Rover name – anyway, not as a standalone brand nor as a modern-day Rover Group or MG Rover. However, I can see a case for the name Rover being cleverly used in association with Range Rover and Land Rover as an addition to this range as stated in an earlier post.

  39. As a Rover P6 owner, and being also quite fond of the old Rover company, i would really like to see the brand appear again.

    But only if JLR is willing to start from where Rover was in 1968, before the dreaded merger that managed to kill the company when it was at its highest watermark. Ideas about small cheap Rovers and/or Rovers that are artificially made to fit below Jaguars, only echo the rubbish management of BL that managed to take a well respected company and make it an object of ridicule in a few years time.
    The recipe is simple. Invest enough to create an excellent car, and it will succeed.

    Incidentally, last week I visited Solihull, and found out that they started producing Jaguars there too. I could not help but think how appropriate it would be to see new Rover cars being produced in Solihull in the spirit of the golden Sixties era!

    • Quote: ” Ideas about small cheap Rovers and/or Rovers that are artificially made to fit below Jaguars, only echo the rubbish management of BL that managed to take a well respected company and make it an object of ridicule in a few years time. The recipe is simple. Invest enough to create an excellent car, and it will succeed.”

      Good points! Doing a retake of the CityRover or Metro, or even something under a badge-engineering exercise, is the last thing a brand like Rover needs as part of any possible rejuvenation plan. Instead, look back to the early – mid 1960s, as mentioned in my previous post, and there Jaguar Land Rover will find plenty of inspiration. They could possibly call the Rover [cars] operation the Rover Co. Ltd. as the Jaguar activity is still known as Jaguar Cars Ltd and Land Rover as Land Rover Group. Rover Group or Rover Cars has already been done and would not be an ideal post-it to previous chapters. Perhaps even using new ‘RP’ or ‘RE’ development coding to signify a ‘Rover Project’ or ‘Rover Engineering’, to distinguish it from ‘L’ or ‘X’ development codes for Land Rover and Jaguar activities?

  40. I think the HGF era and cars like the 111 have tainted the Rover brand. If they were to resurrect an old brand I suggest negotiating for Wolseley or Riley.

    With the use of front wheel drive they would probably want to keep this away from the Jaguar brand (I’m more than happy with front wheel drive but the bar room bores, Clarkson etc would rubbish an fwd Jag) and a separate brand would be ideal.

    • Rover 100 still sold over 200,000 units. Obviously someone wanted to buy them, and the brand soldiered on for 8 years afterwards (with a few far worse and far less popular models appearing).

      • Yes, what’s all this criticism of the baby Rover. The Rover Metro was a transformation over it’s Austin predecessor. It was highly acclaimed in its early years (What Car? Best Supermini I believe and also I think someone called it ‘The Best Supermini In The World’) and it sold better than envisaged. Ok, by the time of the last 100s it was getting a bit long in the tooth but not without appeal.

        • The 100 was crucified by adverse perception of its 2-star performance of crashworthiness rating, such tests being introduced after the horse had bolted,the Metro being designed for a different set of crashworthiness parameters, soon after, the Police commenced recording details of make and model in their accident investigations, when collated and published, the 100 proved to be a middle of the table performer, therefore safer than many other models not so vilified in those crashworthiness tests

    • It is the same problem – Jaguar Land Rover owns the rights to the Rover, Daimler and Lanchester names [only], not Riley or Wolseley. The former, as with MINI and Triumph, is owned by BMW Group, while Wolseley and other former BLMC-associated brands are owned by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC).

  41. I’m encouraged that most comments have been really positive on the propect of Rover’s return. I recently sold my 75 Tourer and there is no doubt in my mind that it was a car that exuded class in a satisfyingly restrained way. Jaguars and Range Rovers aren’t like that and definitely are the preserve of the ‘better off’ who are not shy in letting that be known.

    I feel there is a big market currently dominated by Audi, BMW and Mercedes for those of us who want a bit of class in what was once the Cortina Ghia sector of the market. JLR dealers could I am sure successfully market a 2wd Rover saloon/hatch/estate with an Evoque face and XE underpinnings and stance both in the UK and throughout the world – in that way they get volume without jeopardising the core JLR brands.

  42. Companies who do not use names for more than let’s say 10 years should be forced to forfeit the name. That way BMW would no longer have the rights to Triumph and it could be used by JLR. Would be nice to have a small range of sporty limousines and sports cars sitting under the JLR range.

  43. The Austin and Morris brands should have been ‘retired’ in 1968, or else restricted to taxis and vans/lorries respectively.

  44. So if Tata would only be using their own name on smaller mass market vehicles worldwide, it would be a mistake to slap a Rover badge on it (been there before…).

    JLR would probably be best advised not to venture any further downmarket than they already are – profit margins on smaller cars are much thinner, and the world is already saturated with competent A and B-sector cars- and even Ford and Vauxhall/Opel have to work bloody hard to shift their C-sector cars in Europe.

    And the further downmarket you go, the harder it is to differentiate your car from the competition. Could JLR ‘Rover’ make a better Fiesta, for instance?

    • Okay, so just what market segment are JLR apparently targeting?

      A Fiesta-sized car does not suit the Rover name and will make people think of a BL link which would be disastrous. Yes, the Rover Metro was a way better car than the Austin Metro and practically a nicer driving car than a 1990 Fiesta, but who sold more? Ford did even though many early 1990s Fiestas were rotten from new! Why did so many people shun a Rover Metro for a Fiesta or Corsa? Because of the BL perception.

      If JLR trigger a BL perception they will commit suicide without knowing it.

      If JLR (as some suggest) are planning to make a range of BMW beaters then the Rover name also will cause a negative reaction. People aspired to own a BMW over the bigger Rovers.

      If JLR make a genuinely good range of sub-2.0 litre cars and badge them as Rovers they will shoot themselves in the foot as the Rover name will cause a reaction amongst those who aspire to owning a BMW.

      The ironic thing is that (Austin) Rover in fact DID make a better Fiesta but image let them down.

      The more I think about it JLR probably need to use a different name that has a bit of history but no negative connotations, as I said before, Herald.

      • Good point. Put the Viking longship on a Fiesta competitor and people will think “that crappy company that went bust” but put it on something nicer and people will think of the 75 or the models from the heyday.

  45. Why do JLR need another brand? Mercedes in particular has a hug[e] range of models and they’re all Mercedes from the appalling A-Class to the wonderful S.

    Yes, VW has many brands, but take a look at Audi – they’re trying to fill every niche possible AND create new ones.

    It’s too late for Rover. That being said, Nissan are bringing back Datsun and Vauxhall the Viva!

    • Datsun is back and not doing very well – in fact, they are trying to weather a storm at present where the cars are very poor in crash testing. The Viva is just a name, not a brand, so can’t be used here.

    • I feel the Merc brand has been rather diluted since the introduction of the ugly A and B Class, not to mention all the vans, minibuses and lorries. I’m sure they are doing well but I doubt Jaguar or BMW would want to shove their premium brand logo on such models.

  46. I can completely see the point of resurrecting the Rover name for a more ‘mass-market’ (instead of ‘lower quality’) range of vehicles for JLR. (For the same reasons I see no point in resurrecting Triumph, Wolseley, Swallow, or any other brand name that only we AROnline stalwarts can recognise!)

    The Rover name is already used in their ‘Range’ and ‘Land’ products so the family connection (no matter how tenuous) is obvious, plus it won’t ‘dilute’ Jaguar’s quality image by using the same name on the ‘down market’ vehicles.

    The Rover of old and the bad reputation that some posted feel is synonymous with the name is surely pretty much forgotten (again, outside the walls of this website)? However, the heritage of the name which is still honestly linked into the company through the Range and Land Rover products could be used as a positive marketing tool.

    Let’s face it AROnliners, there is no connection with Sir Alec, but BMW are doing very well with all of those (which I personally think are hideous and bear no real relationship to the original) MINIs.

  47. Some great comments and suggestions here. Obviously, in some quarters, the Rover brand is tainted (not my view) so a UK return is unlikely in the medium term at least. Perhaps overseas?

    Having said that, a JLR launch of a “Rover”-badged car (perhaps a Focus/Astra/Rover 45-size hatchback would fill another segment of the market for them – and it could/would be a quality built product. Still can’t see that happening in the forseeable future though.

    Turning to Nissan/Datsun, my first new car was a Datsun in 1979. These days most of the (younger!) people I know don’t seem to realise that Datsun was a NISSAN product… that set them on their way in the UK.

    • You say Rover is tainted, but there’s still 300,000 of the things on the road and these will all be over ten years old now, so their current owners at least must like them.

      People don’t ‘not buy’ MGs because they collapsed in 2005. They don’t buy them for other reasons!

      SAAB, Chevrolet, TVR, Lotus etc. have all had financial troubles, but I wouldn’t describe any of them as tainted.

  48. Yes, Rover can return whenever it’d be ready for. The name Rover has a great background in the mind of the Latin American market. Once upon a time in the 1990s it was within the top 10 best selling imported brands, matching an astounding share in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Chile.

    Me, being from Buenos Aires, can still witness mostly of those Rovers from the 1990s are riding gracefully on whatever the roads. It hadn`t the mistica nor it wasn’t a BMW quality, but a quite dependable engine for a reasonable sticker price.

  49. I think some commenters are overlooking the macroeconomic pressures behind this. JLR’s success is despite the poor economics of manufacturing in Britain which mean high costs, risks and barriers to market entry. Rover can certainly return, but I doubt JLR will want to make a move on it unless a more pro-industry Government takes control of Britain.

    As for public perception, I think we car enthusiasts are overdoing it. Most people don’t care what brand their car is so long as it’s reasonably mainstream and does its job properly. Even someone who laughs at you for driving a Rover now – it won’t take much to swing them to be impressed at an all-new model carrying the longship badge.

  50. Great to see the Birmingham Post discussing this, and interesting to read the debate on here. MG Rover is gone 10 years but fortunately quite a lot of the factories and supply chain remain. Rover Car’s spiritual home in Solihull will produce its first car since 1982, albeit with a Jaguar badge.

    A new sub-brand or re-launched ‘Rover’ is 7-10 years away, if at all. The difficulty is that the ‘real’ Rovers, the P5 and P6, competed against the Mk2 and nowadays the XE and XF. Would the brands just take sales off each other, as the Rover, Triumph and Jaguar did in the late Sixties and Seventies?

    The modern spiritual successor to the P6, the Evoque, shows how with imagination the JLR brands can complement each other. The ‘re-born’ Rover would probably need to become the post ’88 Rover, a sort of VW to Jaguar’s Audi?

    Or would the ‘new’ Rover draw less on the Rovers of the past, and become instead a 2wd sub-brand of Land Rover/Range Rover, making the connection with the name but creating an entirely new interpretation of the marque, in the way that BMW has done with MINI?

  51. Let’s imagine that Jaguar is still reluctant to revive Rover despite the marque fitting in with JLR stablemates Land Rover and Range Rover.

    Perhaps they can attempt to buy an underutilized marque from another company (one that unlike Rover is still around.. for the moment), which while not British would at least allay Jaguar’s concern of product overlap or fear of taking Jaguar too downmarket… like Lancia?

  52. As long as the brand is treated properly and not just as a name (I’m looking at you MG and BINI) then I’d like to see Rover’s Return. Otherwise, I don’t think I’d be able to cope with controversy…

  53. JLR want to expand their production as economy of scale means more profit. The company will want to eventually match Audi, Merc and BMW in their respective markets and so having a third brand use the same architecture as a smaller Jag or Landie is logical.

    However, whether that brand could be Rover is debatable, but as others have said the cache of LR and RR could be used to spin the return of Rover back to the market – it is more likely that this would be done by partnership with other players, much like the big players in the market are doing now.

  54. With my heart, it would be great to see Rover back.

    With my head, it is probably best left alongside Austin, Morris, Triumph as a dormant marque.

    Jag are expanding their main range, the XE the car the X-Type could’ve been alongside their Jag SUV.

    Some have mentioned the resurrection of Skoda, true but in part only became popular because of the use of VW platforms and engines.

    What Rover has going for it:
    – The LR connection, especially in the USA, where RR/LRs are known as Rovers
    – The Chinese affection for European brands, while the Chinese market is slowing, it is still huge and the Roewe brand demonstrates the fondness for “old school prestige” brands, even if fake.

    As an early 30s motorist, who is eyeing up the XE for potential future replacement of the 9-3, what does Rover mean to myself and my peers?

    Growing up, the R8 was seen as a reasonably desirable middle-class car, sitting where the likes of the Golf or Volvo V40 might sit now. The big Rovers were nice but they were always what middle management or politicians might drive.

    I know two people who owned 200/25 R3s when younger. Both appreciated that it was a small reasonably classy car, but both had HG issues. The 400 was what our Geography teacher drove, the 800 had a whiff of Partridge about it (though so did the Lexus IS). A modern Rover could be a supermini in the mould of MINI, DS3, Adam etc. – a re-imagining of a 25, as a luxury small car.

  55. @lewblew – You’ll note that I said Rover is “tainted in some quarters (not my view)”. I’ve owned three since 2001 and would have bought another if they still built them. Okay, some using this site say don’t bring Rover back and others say, yes please do…

    Personally, I would like to see a revival of the brand, but if so, it will be later rather than sooner… and I might not be driving by then.

  56. Thinking about the Rover brand, it suffers from the lack of an iconic car. The Land Rover and Range Rover are iconic vehicles, which have guided LR to prosperity, vehicles that show the heritage of the brand, and how much deeper its SUV/4WD roots run than for rivals.

    The original BMC Mini is iconic, the BMW MINI is a great car but heavily relied on this heritage at the start. Jaguar has the E-type, a world famous vehicle that is still a benchmark for desirability. Rover has produced some fine cars, but nothing in this class. In the UK, the P5 has a certain iconic status, but not internationally, and that sort of solid, understated large saloon is a tiny part of the market now.

    • A interesting point but do other British brands some commenters have referred to have “iconic models”? For example, Triumph, Riley, Wolseley and Austin, should they have been on a potential shortlist as an alternative to Rover?

      The P5 and the P6 are both notable models that can provide some form of inspiration, albeit in different ways.

      The iconic Land Rover and Mini models have achieved this status partially because of their very long production lives and also because they defined a new product that, unknown to their respective creators at the time, would go on and achieve ‘cult status’.

      • You would argue not, hence none of those marques being used now. If the Mini had always been the Austin (or Morris) Mini, then maybe it would have survived better, but since Mini effectively became its own marque in the 70s, it’s “Mini” which is the strong brand!

        P5 and P6 generate admiration, but aren’t known enough, and are hardly templates for creating a smaller JLR product, being Jaguar XE/XF type vehicles, unlike Mini which fits perfectly into the BMW range size wise.

  57. I think the days for Rover are sadly over. Too much trouble and expense to revive it without any certainty of success.

    For JLR they need to firstly make the XE a desirable product selling like hot cakes as a genuine alternative to A4/3 Series etc. If they manage to do that, they should pursue the market with a new model to compete with A3/1-Series etc.

    Achieve brand loyalty with a bottom of the range model and Jaguar will have arrived. Premier brand high profits, job done. Just need to keep it going!

  58. If the Rover brand has to come back, it has to be brought back carefully and not just nailed onto a low rent “white goods” car from India, because of the risk of the brand devaluing the Land/Range Rover brands.

    The way back I feel is through product sold in the Land Rover network. Recreating the quality company of old, before it got the BL treatment.

    Possible product to bring the brand back could be a premium mini “MPV” aimed at those who want the status of the Land/Range Rover brand for the school run but with a more environmental, family-friendly image. Maybe something along the lines of the Volvo XC60…

    • I’d love to see the look on the faces of the Rover Owners Club members when a brand new premium MPV lines up alongside their P5s and P6s at the classic car show!

  59. There certainly is a lot of potential for JLR in terms of Rover’s comeback. The comments about Rover being definitely tanished are a complete nonsense – the brand still has an incredible amount of followers in the UK, while in Europe it was always deemed to be a prestige brand. Compare this with Skoda with virtually no followers and now a respected brand. Perception changes quite quickly. Rover was always offering something different with a typical English style which is now clearly lacking in the market.

    The only way to bring it back would be to brand Rover a quality medium car that would sit under the XE. Alternatively, Rovers could be a more retro upper medium altenative based on Jags platforms – there are a lot of people that feel disappointment with the modern style of Jags that lack Britishness – especially in countries such as US, Germany… I also believe it could be a success in China.

    As to branding Rover on cheap Tata-based cars for Chinese market, that would be a tragedy for the brand – better be dormant than absolutely diluted. I Am very happy Rover wasn’t purchased by SAIC AND IS NOT PART OF THE PARODY called MG Motor UK…

  60. JLR could of course revive the old trick of badge engineering. Cynical I know but it might shift a bit more volume
    Stick a Rover grille on the XE and the traditionalists could have their much loved wood. Make the emphasis comfort rather then sporting. After all MG/Rover did exactly that with 75/ZT.

    • There has to be more to a Rover than just badge-engineering and the obligatory chrome grille, wood (and no doubt leather too) and simply comfort. That is what the company was doing back in the early 1990s. It worked well then but buyer’s perceptions and tastes have moved on considerably. They want something more substantial than the superficial treatment.

      Sadly efforts such as the P6 3500S and SD1 Vitesse (not to mention the excellent but ultimately stillborn 75 Design Theme which had a wonderful, contemporary take on wood and leather and ‘sporting’ nature) were obviously wasted?

      If the best Jaguar Land Rover (or Tata) can muster up is badge-engineering, no creativity beyond the obligatory grey leather and tobacco coloured wood, and no sporting intent in preference to a softly-softly suspension, then clearly they do not understand Rover. In this case then, the marque should perhaps not be rejuvenated to serve this ‘mere’ indignity.

  61. I can see the Rover brand working for Tata. Despite the difficulties, Rover does have the “air” of quality that would allow Tata to produce an volume car which is surely where they need to go. Jaguar needs to keeps its air of exclusivity, I’ve never felt that the smaller Jags fit the image of the big cat!

      • Why do I read so often that Mercedes as a brand was diluted by building vans and lorries? They may not have been that prominent in the UK, but Mercedes has been building all sorts of commercial vehicles since over 100 years. Quality troubles with passenger cars roughly 10-15 years ago have had a severe impact, though.

        • Well, I’m based in the UK and that’s my impression, so the brand is obviously affected over here!

          Plus just look at the old A-Class…

  62. It makes me sad to read comments about a future “medium quality” Rover that will fit below Jaguar. Obviously this doesn’t lead anywhere.

    I think people should delve a little more in the automotive history and will find that back in the day Rover was THE quality brand, while Jaguar was turning out flashy but not so well built cars. Quality and innovation is what made Rover great during the 1960’s, the compromises are what led to shame. Rover was not about wood, leather and soft suspensions or tradition. Have a look at the Rover P8 specifications (axed when ready for production by … surprise, surprise William Lyons) and you will understand. Remember the Range Rover and you will understand.

  63. Within the posts are quite a number of perceptions as to the makeup/style/image of a relaunched Rover brand, and what a Rover must comprise to appeal to buyers.

    Here is an article which describes how generations of people are viewing driving and car ownership in general, i.e. a trend of falling take up of the posssesion of driving licences in critical age groups.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_car

    F1’s Bernie Ecclestone was alleged to have said I don’t want F1 to appeal to the younger generation, they don’t have any money – that thinking can also apply to the brand of Rover.

  64. @David 3500
    My comments are slightly tongue in cheek and I understand where you are coming from. However, perhaps the cheapest way for JLR to test the water with the Rover brand is to launch a “badge-engineered” version of the XE/XF models. If they are commercially successful they could then make them more distinctive whilst still retaining the Jaguar underpinnings.

    JLR are a now respected prestige brand and I think the car buying public would trust their version of a Rover. The Rover brand needs to be back without delay before it fades away into the distant memory of most people.

    Just consider had Rolls-Royce not badge-engineered Bentleys for nearly 40 years, would VAG have bothered to acquire the brand?

  65. It could work, but in stages. Forget about making Golf class hatchbacks, that’s not what Rover are about. Instead, something 5-Series sized, sold from Range Rover dealerships with standard four wheel drive to maintain a link with LR. It would need to be sold abroad in LHD form only and, once it was established as a player, it could be brought to the UK. The market doesn’t really need another BMW/Merc/Audi competitor but it might work in China, Russia and the US.

    The Rover brand is ruined here really. Buyers in their 30s won’t know what an SD1 or a P5B is and care even less. The trouble is, unlike Jaguar, Rover never made any really desirable cars – the SD1 was as exciting as it got.

    At the end of the day, Rover is still going as Land Rover and Range Rover, built at Solihull. And very successfully, too.

  66. All the main players are trying to fill niches around a core set of models.

    Rover could do this for JLR, allowing Jaguar to become more handling focussed.Competitors for each would be:

    Rover ’35’ Evoque platform 5 Dr hatch – Merc A-Klasse, Audi A3, BMW 1-Series
    Rover ’55’ XE platform – 4 Dr saloon, 5dr estate, – Merc C-Klasse, Audi A4, BMW 3-Series
    Rover ’75’ XF platform – 4dr saloon, 5 Dr estate – Merc E-Klasse, Audi A6, BMW 5-Series
    Jaguar ‘small’ – 4dr saloon coupe, 2 Dr coupe, 5dr tourer – Merc CLA, BMW 2-Series
    Jaguar XE – 4dr saloon coupe, 2dr coupe, 5 Dr tourer – Audi A5, BMW 4-Series
    Jaguar XF – 4 Dr saloon coupe, 2 dr coupe, 5 dr tourer – Merc CLS, Audi A7, BMW 6-Series

    LR and RR are world-leading brands and should continue to explore niches within the remit of SUVs.

    The only level of car missing is the S-Klasse, which would be covered by Jaguar XJ, competing with the more sports models of the other brands, with the addition of a Daimler car of the same platform to compete with the more luxurious models, such as Maybach. The F-Type and a new XK would easily compete with Merc SLC and SL.

    To start with the Rover brand could be revived with a small A-Klasse competitor.

    The final piece in the JLR jigsaw could be to support TATA in making a SMART car to compete in the supermini and mini segments.

  67. The bottom line would have to be the quality and reliability of the product. Rover products up to the late 1960s ticked both boxes and, with the P6, also added a bit of sports saloon appeal into the mix.

    Focusing on quality and reliability is how VW turned the Skoda badge around. Until JLR can guarantee a product that the motoring press would struggle to tear apart then they might as well forget it. In reality the product would have to be better than the competition as it would be starting from such a low point.

    I would not be tempted to use the Jaguar brand for smaller down market cars, though. This will only devalue the Jaguar badge which has only just begun to regain a strong level of credibility.

  68. According to some sources, “peak car” saturation of ownership by men, take up of driving licenses by men, annual mileage driven by men etc. occcured 10 to 15 years ago, so, if Rover do return, how about a Rover orienatated to the market which has not “peaked” – the female owner?

  69. Just a quick note to say what a thought-provoking and well-considered debate this has turned out to be – a real credit to AROnline’s readership.

    Hopefully, at least some of the key decision-makers at Jaguar Land Rover might just have been keeping a watching brief…

    • Well said, Clive. Perhaps Ralph Speth, CEO at Jaguar Land Rover, is reading this and would like to invite a few of us along to his office in Gaydon to discuss our thoughts on this very subject – if so, he is more than welcome to make contact with me. I will bring the biscuits if required!

  70. @ Nige, a Fiesta-sized Jaguar wouldn’t feel right, a Jaguar has to be a large sporting car with an engine of at least 2-litres. Cadillac tried to introduce a small car in the early Eighties, the Cavalier-sized Cimarron, and it bombed, Americans expecting their Caddies to be V8 saloons (although it has to be said the Cadillac brand at the time was in a big of a mess as Jaguar was in 1980 with reliability issues and an energy crisis that made 6-litre V8s redundant).

    • But then JLR aren’t going to be producing Fiesta sized cars. The new XE isn’t a small car by any means, and as a first step they could easily produce a smaller 3 door version (something like that C Class sports coupe hatchback) for example, which would still be fine as a Jaguar if it looked and felt right

  71. I think the Triumph name would be great for a compact, quality car. Or what about Riley? My parents had a Triumph 2500S in the mid 70s. A BMW of it’s day?

    • BMW owns the Triumph trademark, so it’s unlikely it would use it to launch any cars using this name. BMW would never make any non-BMW badged model that would compete with its own models. When they owned Rover, they made sure that all Rovers were below par to the 3 series.

  72. In response to some of the above comments about how the Rover brand could or should be used on more than just C- and below segment cars, an opportunity might present itself in the distant future if and only if Jaguar is able to properly entrench the XE and XF in the market. JLR’s top priorities over the next few years are to turn the XE and XF into fixtures of the global luxury saloon market in the way that the X-Type and S-Type never were, and to expand the Jaguar brand to include Porsche-rivalling SUVs like the F-Pace. In fitness terms, JLR is focusing on strengthening its core.

    In the future, however, JLR might find it worthwhile developing niche models of various sorts. Consider, for example, the Audi odd-numbered Sportbacks, the high-riding BMW Gran Turismos and low-slung Gran Coupes. Even BMW’s new Active Tourer. The BMW GTs are reportedly very successful in China and North America, thus making the standard estate models redundant in the world’s largest car markets. Most potential JLR rivals to these cars, or even more distinctive niche models that target a similar atomised demographic, would fit in well under the Jaguar brand. Not all would, though. A few might fit better as extensions of the Land Rover brand to more low-riding vehicles – in other words, Rover.

    The F-Pace, being an SUV competing for roughly the same market as the Range Rover Evoque, could be seen as a crucial test of JLR’s ability to sustain parallel luxury brands that can co-exist. If JLR doesn’t end up cannibalising itself (presumably JLR personnel did their homework) then I can imagine that it might feel more confident about expanding the Land Rover range with Rovers.

    That would not happen any time soon, obviously, but it’s not totally unthinkable for a hypothetical expanded JLR many years from now.

    • Those are exactly my thoughts, too – a range of premium/luxury Rovers directly targeted at those niche Sportbacks, GTs, Gran Coupes and Active Tourers would cover a lot of potentially profitable segments not being covered by the current, known future or speculated JLR models, while drawing on the best of Rover’s past brand values and traditions and safely allowing the expansion of LR/RR beyond premium/luxury SUVs.

  73. @ Demetris, your comments about sixties Jaguars and Rovers were spot on. The Jaguars might have been more sporting and slightly more luxurious, but the quality was never that good and many ended up with a dubious image, being the cars that villains liked as they made good getaway cars.

    Rovers of this era had the Jaguar-like luxury, but for a lower price and were more reliable – certainly the bodies and engines seemed more durable than Jaguar and, in V8 form, could usually keep up with a 3.8-litre Jaguar.

  74. I would say absolutely the name could come back. In the early 90’s Rover had a good name; tragic that in the space of a few years it was diminished so much but I really think with effective marketing, and most importantly a strong product, the name could return. There are a growing number of people picking up Rovers (esp the 75) for bargain money and realising they were actually good cars.

  75. Since this was all written, there have been major changes in Land Rover’s product line up (from the loss of the Defender, to the recent downgrade of the Discovery – from a sophisticated rural workhorse to a very ordinary, road biased, MPV) that risk damaging the very brand equity of Land Rover itself!

    Any association with the defunct Rover marque is more likely to do serious further damage to Land Rover’s reputation, than improve Rover’s.

  76. The RR Evoque is a road-orientated car with off-road image, and originally based on Ford Focus underpinnings. Now replaced with own-brand underpinnings. What’s to stop the management massaging the imagery further towards pure road?

    Road Rover seems a better marketing bet than Rover, at least at the beginning

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