BIRMINGHAM, UK - Rolls-Royce may be heading back to its traditional home under BMW ownership.
BMW Chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder is considering a plan to build the English luxury car in Derby in central England, where early Rolls-Royce cars were made.
Rover's Cowley factory where the new R40 sedan is being built, and Hams Hall, the site of the $600 million Rover-BMW engine plant due to open near Birmingham in 2000, are also contenders for the new home of Rolls-Royce.
'The chairman is a traditionalist and would like the idea of taking the brand back to Derby,' said a Rover executive who asked not to be named.
BMW will get the Rolls-Royce brand in January 2003. Volkswagen bought Rolls-Royce Motor Cars from Vickers plc, but did not acquire rights to the Rolls-Royce name. The owner of the brand, Rolls-Royce plc, which makes jet engines, later sold the name rights to BMW.
VW will keep the Bentley name and the factory in Crewe, UK. It will make the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph there until 2003.
Derby is the location of the main factory of Rolls-Royce plc.
'Setting up in an extension of the existing Rolls-Royce plc aerospace plant might also appeal,' said the Rover executive. 'It would attract 1/8brownfield' government grant support and there is no shortage of car craftsmen in the area.'
The other sites would also qualify for financial aid, but both suffer from a shortage of skilled labor. 'We still have not finished recruiting for the R40,' said the Rover executive.
Though Henry Royce set up his original factory in Manchester, production moved 50 miles away to Derby in 1908 before being transferred in 1946 to Crewe.