The Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) has announced that it intends to start mass-producing its first hybrid before the end of 2010. Should we give a hoot? Well, probably because the car in question will be the Roewe 750, itself a revised version of the Rover 75, Britain's last, best mass-produced car. Initial …
Ricardo name check
I wouldn't necessarily expect to see the Roewe 750 on UK streets in anything other than prototype form. SAIC's sales strategy for Europe has not been at all clear. Apart from the investment they made over at Ricardo's office in Leamington to develop a new model based on the R40 platform (Rover 75 to you) their presence here has been a bit sporadic, to say the least.
Whether the now rather old underpinnings they are reportedly developing will work in this iteration is going to be worth watching. The R40 platform is extremely good; it's a very strong base but on the weighty side. The 75 got a mixed review from UK press after an initial barnstorming start, caused mainly by the then BMW boss Bernd Pischetsrieder committing a massive PR gaff at the launch. The MG ZT iteration got a much better review but sales never really recovered from the parent's torpedoes and it struggled on before finally dying with the closure of the factory, moving East to be reborn. It was a misunderstood car not helped, if one is to be honest, by a very pretty but distinctly retro look about it and a setup that promoted a relaxing ride instead of the then current fashion for sportiness.
Engineering firm Ricardo have finally got a bit of a name check here too - and not before time really. Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) have been using their services for a while now as they were desperately trying to get a hybrid off the ground to counter the change in consumer perception os large, rumbling off-roaders. Business has been pretty good for them in this field.
On a last point, the plans at Longbridge are a bit murky right now. SAIC are shuffling round the place, leaving some sections that they had previously rented. In fact their stay in some parts has gone over the agreed periods, and exactly what will happen to their presence remains up in the air. The MG TF is already being produced there, albeit in CKD form, but numbers remain unsold, holding up plans for any further development of the site as the recession bites globally.
"Initial plans are only for a mild hybrid with a lithium-ion batter pack"
I want one. I could be environmentally responsible *and* eco-friendly at the same time as being excessively violent (in a non-sexual way, of course, wouldn't want to trip the sex police radar) towards other car drivers.
What a brilliant typo :)
El Reg quits motoring journalism
The Rover 75 was Britain's last best mass produced car????
C'mon, Reg. Get a life.
The last best mass produced large car was the Vauxhall Omega, otherwise, Opel.
The Rover 75 was merely another badly screwed together unreliable oil-leaker in the finest traditions of its immediate predecessor, the Rover 800.
Both cars were, of course, slavishly praised on debut by UK motoring magazines desperate for advertisement revenue. It was only after they'd pocketed that money that -- curiously enough -- all the small-print summaries of the Rover 75 (featured in various magazine 'reference' sections) started telling the truth.
El Reg doesn't need to demonstrate its impressive versatility by straying into Clarkson territory, so better quit now whilst still ahead?
Who owned Rover when they designed the 75 then???
The Rover 75 was received well by the international press, not just the UK. MG Rovers failure to jump on top of the K series engine head gasket problem, while spending what little funds they had on developing the MG SV was their most shocking failure in my opinion. And that opinion is re-inforced by the 75 being labelled a badly screwed together car. That simply isn’t true. BMW knew the model was important for the future of Rover, and monitored the models development closely. And even with Rover going through a sales crisis. they held the launch of the 75 back for a significant amount of time to resolve some fairly trivial issue with the design .With that in mind, it is rather inplausable that BMW allowed the model to be launched 'badly screwed together' isnt it?.
...as Vulcan plummets from his skies........
Sadly Vulcan V5 you are extremely wrong. But consistently so, I'll give you that.
The Omega was made in Rüsselheim, Germany.
The R40 platform was engineered by Rover with parent company BMW at first keeping deliberately out the way, later on getting more involved to sort out minor areas as the clouds started to gather around Rover. Now, BMW's reliability record is not actually as good as some may have you believe, but they're a pretty thorough firm and they helped to ensure the 75 was, on launch, a very sorted motor. But if you like to believe and then repeat what your fat mate in the pub says then more fool you.
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