Rover could not win with BMW

In the commentary on Rover by Geoffrey Robinson ("The great Rover disaster", 27 March), there was no mention of one salient fact. Critically, BMW's purchase of Rover killed Rover's main chance to survive as a brand. This is why, prior to takeover, Rover had planned to be the BMW of Britain, following the likes of Volvo, Saab and Audi into the sporting, premium middle ground. But BMW did not want any further competition from a brand it now owned.

Rover was thus forced into a barren market sector, the slightly luxurious, slightly traditional mainstream, opposite Ford and Vauxhall. But those companies were able to offer all the "luxury" details that Rover did at a lower price. Their quality was much the same and that left Rover as a purveyor of mock-trad cars with flimsy veneers of leather and walnut. The Rover brand said pipe and slippers, when everyone else's wanted to express running shoes and Lycra.

Simply put, Rover was forced by BMW's flawed product strategy to sell products no one wanted. No amount of good management could fix that inherent problem.

Richard Herriott

This article first appeared in the 10 April 2000 issue of the New Statesman, The long war against democracy