BIRMINGHAM, England - MG Rover is developing contingency plans for a new lower-medium car based on a downsized version of the Rover 75 platform.
The company is making the plans in case its search for an engineering and manufacturing partner is unsuccessful, said John Parkinson, sales and marketing director at MG Rover.
The search for a partner is proving troublesome for MG Rover. Parkinson and other MG Rover executives continued to deny last week there was any truth to reports of disagreement among the directors of the troubled company.
BMW sold Rover to Phoenix, a consortium of British businessmen, for 10 (E17) in May. The company was recently renamed MG Rover.
MG Rover and Proton, the Malaysian state-owned carmaker, have both denied news reports they are in talks. The reports said Proton could buy MG Rover or serve as its partner in the development of a new generation of lower-medium cars.
The reports said the new cars would go on sale after MG Rover's 25 and 45 models go out of production in 2004.
Techtronic 2000, the holding company that owns MG Rover, is scheduled to hold a board meeting on October 27. News reports have stated that Chairman John Towers is losing the confidence of the board.
UK sports car builder Lola and coachbuilder Mayflower, which hold seats on the board, formed their own car-making venture last week. Their move was seen in some quarters as a reaction against Towers' leadership.
But Parkinson claimed MG Rover's short-term business plan is on track.
The plan calls for the development of three MG models built on Rover platforms: the current Rover 25, 45 and 75.
Those cars will capitalize on MG's tradition as a builder of affordable sports cars. They will be powered by Rover engines improved for higher performance. The first of the new models will arrive in 2001. Kevin Howe, executive director of MG Rover, said each of the MG sports sedans would be offered in three variants.
'We will have an entry-level model with basic sporty features; a core model with affordable high performance; and a top-level model that will offer the ultimate MG sporting experience,' he said.
Howe also said the company would further develop the MGF roadster, the only MG-badged model it offers at the moment. A more powerful version is planned.
Rover will also begin building a Rover 75 station wagon next year at its Longbridge factory in the English midlands.
A prototype of the station wagon is on display at Rover's headquarters at Bickenhill, near Birmingham's National Exhibition Center, site of the current Birmingham motor show.
Despite its closeness to the National Exhibition Center, MG Rover does not have a stand at its home-market auto show.
Longer term, the company must concentrate on replacing the Rover 25 and 45 with new models.
The two cars received mid-life face-lifts a year ago, while the company was still owned by BMW.