Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

The Strange and Convoluted History of MG Rover

Saturday, February 24th, 2001

Our story goes back to November 1981, when BL PLC incorporates a new subsidiary, Austin Rover Ltd. Five months later (April 1982) Austin Rover is renamed BL Cars Ltd, but by some oversight or delay the existing BL Cars Ltd is not renamed until December, when it becomes Austin Rover Group Ltd. ARG Holdings Ltd had been incorporated in October. In 1986 BL PLC became The Rover Group PLC, since Leyland trucks had been sold to DAF. When the British government sold the group to British Aerospace (now BAe Systems) in 1989 it became Rover Group Holdings Ltd, and Austin Rover Group became Rover Group Ltd. Four months later it was again Austin Rover Group Ltd, and it was now BL Cars that was the Rover Group Ltd. (more…)

The Resurrection of the “Tall” Car

Saturday, February 3rd, 2001
Isuzu GBX Concept
© Isuzu Motors America, Inc.

At the 2001 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, ISUZU unveiled a concept that epitomized the circle that automotive styling has made in recent years. Their “GBX” concept harked back to the stagecoach as the spiritual precursor of the SUV, but it also serves as a reminder of the origins of the automobile itself. Many early automobiles were little more than motorized buggies, and fully deserved the moniker of “horseless carriage.” Over the years styling and construction changed, but a few elements of the automobile's distant past remained — large wheels, running boards, “climb-in” upright seating, even an actual “trunk” for luggage. (more…)

Online Car Buying in the Third Millenium

Thursday, June 8th, 2000

DaimlerChrysler, Ford and GM have each sent dealers letters recently regarding their dealings with online sales outlets. Each has reminded dealers that franchise agreements do not allow dealers to sell cars to third parties for resale. What is unstated is that such deals will probably mean there is no valid factory warranty on vehicles sold by these third parties. They may technically be second-hand cars, even with very low delivery mileage. All three manufacturers make the point, however, that sites which act as a referral service, or presumably as an “agent,” for the dealer are fine. Since dealers will almost certainly be delivering and providing service for the cars they provide, there is, operationally, not a great difference between the business models. The key sticking point is who books the final sale. (more…)

Rover Sails Off Into the Sunset

Friday, March 17th, 2000

BMW has finally given up on Rover, after years of red ink and opposition to British subsidies from the EU. Both unions and the British government were rightly concerned over Rovers fate when rumors of the sale were first confirmed, but the truth is Rover's demise in recent years has been as much due to BMW's neglect as to past history and high costs in Britain. In six years, when all of Rover's models needed to be replaced, when the company desperately needed new, more profitable models, only one significant model was introduced, the 75. In that same time period almost every BMW model has been replaced and new models introduced. The new Mini (being kept by BMW) has yet to materialize, and other replacements, planned from the beginning, are still nothing more than codes. (more…)

Automotive Mergers

Tuesday, October 26th, 1999

True, DC was in talks with Nissan before Renault bought in, and they need a cheaper brand in Europe, but Renault is also Renault trucks, one of the biggest players alongside DC, Fiat's Iveco and Volvo/Scania. The only reasonable targets for DC in Europe are PSA (Peugeot) or Fiat, which is more likely to part with its car operations than Renault. In any case Renault will probably remain free until we see the results of Nissan's restructuring. PSA is the most likely partner for DC, especially with its South American and Chinese operations. Mitsubishi and one of the remaining troubled Koreans are possible in Asia. (more…)