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Corporate Business

More Doubts Over MG At Longbridge

The last car to be manufactured at Longbridge may have already rolled off the production line, industry insiders fear. They said the decision by main supplier Stadco to stop manufacturing body-shells for the MG TF sports car, as The Birmingham Post revealed on Saturday, could effectively sound the “death knell” for the Nanjing project. One influential source said he doubted whether Nanjing parent SAIC would ever produce cars from Longbridge.

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Corporate Business

MG Is Back … Sort Of

Ever since MG Rover went bust in 2005 and was bought by Nanjing Automotive, rumors have flown about when the automaker’s Longbridge factory would resume production of its iconic roadster and other models. Well after a long wait, to the delight of enthusiasts MGs are once again available in the UK…just not ones made by the Chinese parent company. A new endeavor launched by Englishman William Riley called MG Sports and Racing Europe has begun selling a supercharged coupe called the MG X-Power WR. Based on the old company’s most expensive model, the new sports car is built in Eardiston, UK, and priced between approximately $150,000 and $175,000, with seven models sold so far and 35 additional orders in the pipeline.

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Corporate Business

Triumphing During Economic Slowdown

According to MotorTrend, the economic slowdown is actually going to be a benefit for the British car industry. Cardiff Business School car industry guru Professor Garel Rhys is predicting that the falling value of Sterling will make British built cars easier to export, despite the gloomy economic outlook. He said that some 76 per cent of UK car production was for export, and Sterling’s value fall would make these vehicles more profitable, helping to justify inward investment in the UK car industry, notably from emerging economies such as China. The latest UK vehicle investor is Indian industrial combine Tata, which has recently bought Land Rover and Jaguar from Ford. Other investors include the Russian backers of the LDV van making business. He added that the currency value shifts would cut the profitability of imported cars, which currently account for 86 […]

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Corporate Business

Jaguar Sold

Car giant Ford has sold its luxury UK-based car brands Jaguar and Land Rover to Indian company Tata. Tata, India’s biggest vehicle maker, is paying $2.3bn for the British brands after months of negotiations over price and supply relationships. The irony of one time colonies buying and selling the automotive crown jewels Britain has not gone un-noticed. The negotiations started last June when Ford announced its intention to sell the companies as a package. Jaguar and Land Rover employ about 16,000 staff at UK plants in the West Midlands and Merseyside. Although Land Rover remains profitable, Ford has never managed to make money from its investment in Jaguar. Ford has been forced to sell the two companies in order to concentrate on its loss-making core US car business, which it hopes to turn around in the next two years. It […]

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Corporate Business

Cabinet Replacing Jaguars With Prius?

While I am as green as the next person, or maybe even more so, this just seems wrong on so many levels. The British cabinet is debating replacing their Jaguars with the hybrid Prius. As the Financial Times reports, “Gordon Brown’s cabinet clashed yesterday over whether to replace British-built ministerial cars with Japanese Toyota Prius hybrid vehicles, amid new evidence that the government is failing to live up to its green rhetoric. John Hutton, the business secretary, led the criticism of the plan to import more cars from Japan rather than use traditional British vehicles, saying it sent out a bad signal to domestic manufacturers.” Sad, very sad. You can read the full article at the Financial Times site.

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Corporate Business

Does Jaguar Face Extinction?

Ford is on the verge of selling Jaguar to Indian company Tata after failing to see a return on its investment after nearly 20 years. What caused the British luxury car maker’s decline? When the Ford Motor Company acquired Jaguar in 1989, the American giant was aiming for a slice of the lucrative European luxury-car business – with ambitions to snatch sales from the dominant Germans. Nearly 20 years later, however, Jaguar has yet to post a profit, its sales continue to shrink, and the British brand is about to be offloaded to giant Indian company Tata.

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Corporate Business

Jaguar Moving To Exclusivity

Jaguar intends to become a copycat by following Porsche’s sales strategy of selling fewer cars with higher profit margins. The British luxury-car brand has targeted the German sports car maker’s successful business formula after years of losses and underperforming sales under American owner Ford. Jaguar, along with sister company Land Rover, is on the verge of being sold to Indian company Tata, a transition that is unlikely to change plans to abandon the previous (Ford) strategy of chasing big volumes. At the launch of the car maker’s new XF model in Monaco, Jaguar’s design director and senior figurehead Ian Callum said the successor to the S-Type signalled a fresh approach for the brand. “Our aim now as a luxury brand is to aim for about 100,000 units a year, not 200,000 or 300,000,” he said. “That’s about the right size […]

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Corporate Business

Small Land Rover Coming

IT IS not a case of if, but when Land Rover will build its smallest off-roader. The LRX Concept was shown at the Melbourne Motor Show last month and Land Rover flew in its chief designer Julian Thomson for the presentation. He said the four-seater LRX “cross coupe” would go into production in three to four years and would look very similar to the show car. The LRX is smaller than a Freelander and features a rising waistline, no B pillar, a space-age interior with LED lights in the carpet which is made from recycled drink bottles, and it is powered by a hybrid electric/bio-diesel powerplant. “The exterior is close to what we will have in production – the mirrors will have to be bigger – but much of it will go into production,” Thomson said. “Car design is really […]

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Corporate Business

MG Rover Report Taking Too Long

MPs have demanded a government-backed inquiry into the collapse of MG Rover is forced to publish its findings. The independent investigation began in June 2005 but has so far not reported any of its conclusions. In January it was revealed it had cost £11.8m. The Birmingham car maker went bust in April 2005 with the loss of 6,000 jobs. The business and enterprise committee of MPs has called for the findings to be made public, but the government has refused to set inspectors a deadline. The government called in fraud and insolvency specialists to help the official inquiry into the failure of the firm, which was bought by Nanjing Automobile Corporation in July 2005. ‘Community destroyed’ Mid-Worcestershire Conservative MP Peter Luff, who chairs the business and enterprise committee, said the inquiry had taken long enough.

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Corporate Business

Vauxhall Redesign of Griffin Badge

Vauxhall is overhauling the design of its famous Griffin badge and will give the new logo a much bigger presence on the face of all its new models, starting with this summer’s redesigned Insignia, the Vectra replacement. The Griffin badge currently shares space on the nose of Vauxhall’s models with a chrome V-shaped finisher, which will remain a feature on the nose of models. But the redesigned Griffin will be the dominant identity on the nose of the Insignia, with other models getting the new badge as they are facelifted or replaced. “Time has come for the Griffin badge to get an update, just as our new model range needs,” says a Vauxhall source. The move will bring Vauxhall more in line with German sister-company Opel, whose circular badge crossed with a zig-zag dominates the front of its versions of […]

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Corporate Business

Tata chief backs Jaguar F-Type

The long-shelved Jaguar F-Type sports car, which debuted at the 2000 North American International Auto Show, appears to have secured the backing of Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata, whose company is expected to take ownership of Jaguar and Land Rover within the next two weeks. Speaking to journalists at the Geneva motor show on Tuesday, Tata said of the two-seater, “I’d be delighted if we have one in the range.” Smiling to journalists as he was questioned about the car, Tata said, “I do have a strong view about it,” leaving listeners without doubt that he has interest in getting the F-Type into production.

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Corporate Business

Bentley – Green Without Hybrids

Bentley is pinning its green future on more efficient gasoline engines powered by biofuel combined with lighter-weight body construction, rather than a radical switch to diesel or hybrid powertrains. “We don’t think our customers, particularly in North America and Europe, are ready for a diesel Bentley, said Uli Eichhorn, Bentley chief engineer, on Tuesday at the Geneva motor show. Although Bentley Chairman Franz-Josef Paefgen refuses to rule out a diesel powertrain, Eichhorn said: “Not ruling it out does not mean it is our top priority.” Hybrid powertrains don’t fit the typical usage cycle of a Bentley, according to Eichhorn. “(Hybrids) are very good in cities and stop-start driving, but that’s not where out cars are used.”

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Corporate Business

Lotus Launches Hybrid Labs

It looks like a regular Opel (Saturn) Astra, but the car that’s pictured is completely different. This vehicle is Lotus Engineering’s first attempt at creating a hybrid vehicle, and represents the launch of a branch of the British firm dedicated to engineering and developing hybrid and electric vehicles. Underneath its hood, Lotus Engineering has fitted a small 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine featuring a turbocharger that’s mated to a mild hybrid drivetrain system. The 12 kW electric motor adds power, but not at the cost of fuel economy, and because it isn’t a full hybrid system that allows the car to run on pure electrical power, it poses a price advantage. Lotus has also taken a load off of the main engine by switching over the water pump and the fuel pump to items that are purely electrical, a change that […]

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Corporate Business

Sale of Jaguar, Land Rover Set For Next Week

Tata Motors will announce its purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover on March 5 or 6. The dates have been agreed between Tata and Ford Motor Co., which is selling the two luxury brands, following talks with union leaders last week. Roger Maddison, national officer of Unite, the largest union in the UK auto industry, told Automotive News Europe that Tata had agreed to meet guarantees sought by union leaders. He said, “Everything seems fine as far as we are concerned; it’s just the lawyers working on it now.” Union leaders spoke with Ford and Tata to resolve final details before the drawing up of a memorandum of understanding for the sale.

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Aston Martin

Bez Bringing Aston Martin To Profit

The Telegraph is reporting that Ulrich Bez has not just been turning around legendary car maker Aston Martin, but he has been leading them to profit. To quote the Telegraph, “Are profits still growing? Aston Martin has not yet published its 2007 financial results but Bez says: ‘Usually when there is a change of ownership you can say that a company will go through a difficult time for a year or two. We have not seen any of that. We have not lost any of the motivation that we had under Ford where we were a very enthusiastic team. We have been profitable since the last quarter of 2005 and we have increased that profitability year on year.’”

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Corporate Business

Jaguar Dealers – 10,000 Deposits for XF

Jaguar Cars Ltd. has taken 10,000 customer deposits globally for the upcoming XF sedan, including about 3,000 in the United States. That’s a promising start. Jaguar executives say they released the figures to show the impact of the XF even without advertising or cars available to test drive. Instead, Jaguar has combined dealer training with posh customer-only events. The company put together a 21-city road show with a few demo XFs in tow, training entire dealerships at once. Dealerships then conducted events for loyal customers and luxury intenders. Ken Gorin, owner of The Collection in Miami, has 80 sold orders from holding two events, one at the dealership and another in the Miami Design District. “I sold 30 XFs the first night,” Gorin says. “I haven’t seen a reaction like that since the (Porsche) Boxster came out. When people hear […]

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Corporate Business

MG Production at Longbridge Delayed

Concerns over the quality of the cars being built by Shanghai Automotive (SAIC) at the Birmingham-based Longbridge factory have caused further delays. The MG TF is due to be the first model launched by the Chinese firm in the UK and production began back in May 2007, but it was stopped not long after. Since then, NAC (the Chinese firm that bought the MG brand following the collapse of MG Rover) has been bought out by rival Shanghai Automotive and the delays have been further extended. NAC originally claimed that it would have the MG TF on sale in early 2007 and provide more than 1000 jobs. So far, the car’s launch is more than a year overdue and only 140 jobs have been created. President of SAIC, Chen Hong, claimed that “if we launch the product on the UK […]

Morgan Goes Back to the Future with Hydrogen Car
Corporate Business

Morgan Goes Back to the Future with Hydrogen Car

Morgan Motor Co., the tiny British automaker so old-fashioned it still uses wood frames, is stepping well into the future with LifeCar, a hydrogen fuel cell hybrid it says will prove “a zero-emission vehicle can be fun to drive.” Morgan will unveil the hand-built aluminum-bodied coupe next month at the Geneva Auto Show, and although there’s no word on whether LifeCar will ever be more than a one-off concept, the company hopes to show hydrogen is a viable – if distant – alternative to fossil fuels. Morgan has spent more than two years working with a British defense firm, two universities and a hydrogen supplier to develop a car it promises will “minimize the fuel cell cost and provide the fuel economy for a 200 mile range.” As impressive as the LifeCar is, what makes it truly remarkable is a […]

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Corporate Business

Bertone’s Future to be Decided Soon

Not strictly British car content, but of interest to most British car enthusiasts. Autoweek is reporting that three special commissioners appointed Monday by a Turin, Italy, bankruptcy court have 30 days to evaluate if struggling Italian contract manufacturer Carrozzeria Bertone will have a future. Bertone stopped volume production in December 2005 and since then has been desperately looking for new work. In the past two months, two attempts to sell Carrozzeria Bertone failed, pushing the Turin bankruptcy court to appoint the special commissioners. The three commissioners are: — Antonio Bene, an engineer and former head of manufacturing at Fiat Auto. — Stefano Ambrosini, a law professor at the University of Turin, a bankruptcy expert. — Vincenzo Nicastro, a lawyer from Milan and a financial contracts expert. After the three commissioners complete their findings for Carrozzeria Bertone in mid-March, the bankruptcy […]

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Articles

Roary, The Racing Car

What’s this, more British anthropomorphisation of mechanical objects, a la Thomas the Tank Engine and Tiny Robots? What’s with the fetish for talking metal? Must be a boarding school thing. Roary, the Racing Car focuses on Roary, a small, cheeky, zippy, red racing car, and all his friends at the race track. I suppose it was entertaining, in a Boy’s Own sort of way. There’s a lot of color and movement, competition, going fast and stuff but where are the princesses, the mermaids, the fairies? Entertaining? Yeah, if you’re a boy.