BMW removes Rover’s autonomy

The famous Rover Group name is to disappear following a decision by its parent to include the organisation under the group name BMW. The Rover marque is to remain but will become one of many owned by the German firm, including Rolls-Royce, Land Rover and MG. The disappearance of the Rover Group name formalises transfer […]

The famous Rover Group name is to disappear following a decision by its parent to include the organisation under the group name BMW.

The Rover marque is to remain but will become one of many owned by the German firm, including Rolls-Royce, Land Rover and MG.

The disappearance of the Rover Group name formalises transfer of control over the UK operation to Munich. Garel Rhys, professor of motor industry economics at Cardiff Business School, said: `Decision making now takes place in Munich. There will be no UK corporate structure to get in the way of BMW’s decisions.’

The company’s formal name in the UK will still be Rover Group but that will only be used for legal and accounting purposes.

The move follows increasing frustration in Germany over the plight of Rover. Speaking to a German audience earlier this month, BMW chairman Joachim Millberg said: `BMW is leading Rover now because Rover was not strong enough as an independent organisation.’

Rover dealerships are unlikely to be rebranded, nor would it be wise for BMW to reflag Rover’s Birmingham or Oxford factories.

`That would be a throwback to the British Leyland days when you had “Big Factory Number One” and “Big Factory Number Two” – it’s almost Soviet in style. If the Rover brand recovers, it might not happen,’ said Rhys.

`You can’t have both Rover Group and BMW Group,’ a Rover spokesman said. `We’ve been using Rover Group less and less. What we’ll be saying now is that we have a new car from BMW Group – and then use the name Rover or Land Rover or MG.’

* BMW is to phase in euro currency contracts to Rover suppliers. The changeover will begin in a month with 12 of the larger contractors.

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