Outlook: BMW's dog

IT IS hard not to feel a certain schadenfreude as Bernd Pischetsrieder, the boss of BMW, stares into the abyss. When he bought Rover in 1994 for a price which seemed fancy even then, there was an arrogance in his assumption that German efficiency could do for Rover what billions of pounds of taxpayers' money and a spell under British Aerospace's ownership had singularly failed to achieve.

Five years and pounds 3bn of investment later, far from turning Rover around, the old dog looks like being the nemesis of its master. BMW has suffered the humiliation of seeing its profits fall for the first time in years, not because its own brand is faltering, but because of the black hole over here into which it has been pouring funds.

Whilst it is hardy yet accurate to say that the vultures are circling, BMW would be snapped up by any number of bigger and hungrier predators if only the Quandt family could be persuaded to sell. The sale of Volvo to Ford makes the world an even lonelier place for the likes of BMW, which is now regarded as a minnow in motoring terms, even though it churns out more than a million cars a year.

When he took charge, Mr Pischetsrieder, spoke dreamily of the golden days of British motoring and evoked images of everyone driving around once again in Wolseleys and Rileys. And indeed the new Rover 75, a retro version of the stylish saloons of the late 1950s, is, by all accounts going down a storm with the motoring press test driving the car out in Spain.

But it is more likely to be Mr Pischetsrieder's swansong than Rover's salvation. The real gap in the marque's line up is a model that can compete credibly in the medium segment of the market where Rover is woefully represented by the 200-400 series.

Mr Pischetsrieder's rumoured successor, Wolfgang Reitzle, has no such sentimental attachments to weigh him down. Indeed anyone who spotted his cameo performance in the TV series "When BMW met Rover", will recall a cold-eyed fellow whose schedule definitely had no room for the film-wrapped German sausage and sauerkraut so lovingly prepared by the Rover dinner ladies at Canley.

The unions fear Mr Reitzle is the type who could close Longbridge down, tell Tony Blair to keep his pounds 300m in aid and switch production to Hungary without so much as a blink. That would mean 15,000 job losses, minimum, and the first real test of Mr Blair's New Labour free market rhetoric.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious 5
film
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss