Audi, new owner of Cosworth Engineering’s independent consultancy business, insisted this week that it would take any steps necessary to protect its valuable business with rival car makers.
But industry insiders believe most of Cosworth’s engine expertise will be used in work for Audi’s parent company, the VW group.
Rodney Westhead, chief executive of rival automotive consultancy Ricardo Group, said: ‘They bought it to use the engineers on their own in-house projects, which include designing a new Rolls-Royce engine.’
Westhead said Cosworth’s volume of business from other car makers was likely to decline, through lack of available engineers and the industry’s perception that the company has lost some of its independence.
An Audi spokeswoman said the company planned to go forward as a supplier to the broader global industry. ‘Chinese walls for confidentiality will apply,’ she said.
Under the terms of confidentiality agreements, no-one from Audi will have access to the project offices.
Vickers announced last week that it had finalised terms for Cosworth’s £117m sale to Audi, but it now plans to sell motorsport division Cosworth Racing on to Ford.
As well as Cosworth Engineering, the VW group is left with Cosworth Castings and Cosworth Manufacturing which makes engines for Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars. Turnover across the whole of Cosworth was £116.9m last year.
Management changes and a new unit structure at Cosworth will be announced by early September.
Ricardo is now the biggest independent automotive consultancy in the UK.
Westhead said: ‘We could see an approach from a major car maker wanting to buy our skills and expertise. But I see Ricardo’s future as independent and we would fight to defend that.’