Bunhill: Car trouble

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MUCH finger-pointing in the car industry. The source of all the passion is the turnaround in the fortunes of Rover. Sources not a million miles from Ford are attributing Rover's new-found popularity to British Aerospace, the car maker's parent, ordering cars on behalf of its employees. One report, in the Daily Telegraph, said BAe's fleet of Rovers amounted to between 12,000 and 15,000 cars. If true, it would mean that BAe was handing out cars to one in 10 of its mainly blue-collar workers. In fact, fumes a Rover man, BAe has 3,000-4,000 company cars (still not bad, for a group in considerable difficulty). But about 10,000 cars were sold to BAe group employees last year at substantial discounts. In December, they bought about 4,000. Not to be outdone, he aims a blow at Ford. The industry focuses on new registrations, not actual sales. So keen is Ford, apparently, to retain its number one status that it is giving incentives to dealers to register more cars than they can immediately sell. This one will run and run.