I am a tad late with this, though I did learn the news earlier: the Rover trade mark has been bought by Ford, which had ﬁrst right of refusal when BMW sold it. The Dearborn, Mich. automaker paid £6 million, which means it will likely hang on to its Land Rover unit. It also means that SAIC, which has its version of the old Rover 75 ready for sale, will need to create a brand—putting it at a disadvantage to its rivals in Nanjing, the NAC–MG group.
SAIC may have been better resourced than NAC, but without a brand, it is no better than the many Red Chinese companies wanting to set up shop outside their home market.
Ford may put out extensions to its Land Rover and Range Rover models, though most cannot see that happening in the immediate term. The brand equity is less than what it could be at this point, so Ford is unlikely to use the brand till well into the 2010s, when it has recovered slightly and people are seeing it through rosier-coloured glasses.
That is conventional thinking, and Ford is good at that. ‘We haven’t planned new models for this, so we won’t do anything.’
Sometimes, it is bad having a ﬁxed strategy. Strategies need to be semi-ﬂuid for opportunities such as these.
The Unofﬁcial Austin–Rover Resource’s Keith Adams proposed the Jaguar X-type be rebadged a Rover, so Jaguar could concentrate on its more premium models. In rare disagreement with Keith, I do not think that is a good idea, considering the marque could do with a 2·4 or Mark II-segment model, and there would be too many sheetmetal changes needed to make the X-type less Jaguar-like.
But Keith is on to something, but we need to think just a bit more laterally: could Rover be a brand to slap on to exports of Mercurys to Europe? The Mercury Milan, for example, is smart, looks less modern than its European rivals, and may appeal to many buyers who want a softer, slightly traditional car.
Its Mazda 6 base means it is safe, and it might even mean right-hand-drive engineering won’t be too hard.
The waterfall grille can be easily adapted to fit the Rover Viking longship.
Hardly anyone in Europe knows the Mercury brand.
Ford, in one move, could get better economies of scale with its Fusion, Milan and MKZ, increase its representation in the CD segment, tap in to the remaining Rover loyalists, and have a car that won’t seriously cannibalize its other similarly sized models.
The launch costs need not be great because not enough time has passed for Rover to sink into history like Triumph or Austin has.
And it can market the car, if it wanted to, in nine months.
The Mercury Milan doesn’t even need to be a class leader, because as we have seen, Rover buyers have not been after that for a long time.
The question is: will the new CEO, Alan Mulally, have the guts to put a stamp on his leadership with such a coup early, like Bob Lutz did at GM?
Del.icio.us tags: Rover Ford Mercury export marketing brand branding brand equity Alan Mulally cars automobiles BMW Posted by Jack Yan, 12:28
nanjing is amazing, i think they will be the top chinese manf out there in 5 years, better than chery and geely
nanjing mg rover
You are probably right: Nanjing has more vision, I would say. Chery and Geely are rehashing the same old stuff. If they want to beat Nanjing, they will need to come up with some alternative-fuel models.Post a Comment
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