Wednesday 30 September 1998
Bernd Pischestrieder, the urbane chairman of BMW, has every reason to be glum. He bought Rover in a haze of sentimental attachment to its illustrious predecessors, the Wolseley and Riley, but quickly discovered that the current model is not in quite the same league.
The R75 - the successor to the uninspired 600-800 series - is Rover's next great hope and goes on show in Birmingham in three weeks' time. But as luxury executive saloons go, it will be a pale imitation of the real thing, the latest Mercedes S-class, which is also getting its first outing in Paris.
Four-and-a-half years on, all BMW has to show for its pounds 4bn of investment in Rover is mounting losses of perhaps as much as pounds 500m this year and a faint hope that its purchase will turn the corner some time in the millennium with the aid of a revamped version of a 40-year old car, the Mini.
Meanwhile, the Rover workforce is being fed on a diet of bad news, with more cutbacks due in the next fortnight on top of the 1,500 job losses and four-day week announced in July. Amid the wreckage, the one consolation for Mr Pischetsrieder is the performance of Land-Rover. But at some point his shareholders have to ask whether BMW might not have spent their money better building its own entry into the 4x4 market from scratch.
It is hardly time yet to press the panic button, and BMW remains a highly profitable brand. But with the millstone of Rover around his neck, Volkwagen's Ferdinand Piech knocking at his door, and Daimler married to Chrysler, Mr Pischetsrieder must be starting to feel the heat.
- 1 Double chins could be 'cured' without surgery or dieting using new injection
- 2 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 3 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 4 Thank heavens for Louise Mensch and her foul-mouthed tweets to world leaders
- 5 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Greece elections: Greek PM Alexis Tsipras takes aim at 'neo-liberal' Europe as country gears up for prolonged austerity battle
Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary: Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
Prince Philip set to be knighted by Australia: Celebrate by reading his greatest gaffes
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
iJobs Money & Business
£16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...
£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...
£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...