>From 'AUTOCAR' Magazine, (British Weekly colour magazine: influential)
Issue: Weds 1st March 2000.
News Page (pg.11)
Headline: "Rover may be a Triumph"
BMW may axe the Rover name and start building Triumph-badged family cars.
A senior source at BMW claims it is lost for ideas on what more it can do to
reverse Rover's image problem, especially in the UK.
BMW also believes Rover has insurmountable image problems in the lucrative US
market as a result of the unpopularity of the Sterling model in the early
BMW has invested 3 billion GBP into Rover since buying the British car maker
in 1994 for 800 million GBP and is set to continue investing 600 million GBP
Sales slumped by 25,000 in the UK last year and soon-to-be released financial
figures for 1999 will show that Rover has overtaken the previous year's 600
million GBP loss.
Many senior BMW officials feel that the Rover name is now irretrievably
damaged and that the best course is a damage limitation exercise that will
see out the current Rover 75, 45 and 25 models.
BMW has already decided to remove any Rover links from the launch of the
vital all-new Mini next year, which will be sold in BMW dealerships abroad.
"We believe the Mini will be a big success, our Land Rover products are
enjoying record sales and the MG name remains very strong, but we just can't
seem to change the Rover image despite our new models being excellent cars,"
says the senior BMW source.
The source confirmed the Triumph name is seen as a brand with a positive
reputation after the sporting TR and popular Dolomite and Vitesse models. The
Acclaim, the last Triumph car, was a joint venture with Honda and enjoyed
BMW has been impressed at the recent revival of the Triumph mototcycle
Leading auto-industry academic Professor Garel Rhys of Cardiff University
Business School, agrees the Triumph name has potential.
"It's the last piece of ammunition BMW has on the name front and it's
probably a more realistic name for a family car range than Rover."
Rhys claims the real damage to Rover was done by the attack on the UK car
maker's productivity and quality by BMW's then boss, Bernd Pischetsreider, on
the same day Rover launched the 75. However, Professor Rhys believes BMW
should accept some blame for Rover's decline - and that the brand could still
be saved. He highlights the success VW has had with the Skoda brand as how
people's perception of a manufacturer can change.
by Ken Gibson.
and now for my reaction to this article.
I'm not so sure about some of the above comments?
Firstly, the Triumph name is hardly famous, (leastways in the 'lucrative US
for it's 'popular Dolomite and Vitesse models' (wherever did they get that
idea from ?)... I would have thought that it is best remembered in the US,
for the TR range, followed by the Spitfires and the Heralds before that,
whilst here in the UK it is best remembered for the Dolomites, Triumph
2000/2500 Sedans, Heralds and Spitfires in that order.
Much as I am personally grateful for any mention of the Vitesse, and the
picture of Bill Sunderland:-TSSC Manager's own car in the Autocar article,
very few 'men on the street' (or the clapham omnibus), actually recall the
Vitesse, or for that matter the GT6. (my Vitesse is almost always called 'a
nice Herald' by Joe Public).
Furthermore, the Acclaim was in fact not really any kind of 'moderately
successful' Triumph, but simply a rebadged Honda Ballade, which actually got
BL out of a good deal of trouble, by selling rather better than moderately
So far as I can see it, the Rover name has not exactly been helped by the
cars that have had that name stuck on them since the end of production of the
last halfway decent Rover P6, replaced by the very poorly screwed together
SD1 and on...
As for the academic Professor? What about Riley? Wolseley? Austin? or Morris?
The last piece of ammunition? Oh really...I wonder how old he is?
Ah well, the Triumph name belongs to BMW and I am sure they will do whatever
they see fit.
Léon F Guyot
Triumph Sports Six Club
International Liaison Secretary
1963 Triumph Vitesse 2-Litre Convertible
Wimbledon, London, England.