Rover misses T-reg bonanza

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The Independent Online
SALES OF Rover cars rose by just 5 per cent last month, even though the overall new car market increased by nearly 75 per cent following the introduction of T registration number plates.

Figures released yesterday by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that new car sales in March reached 370,060 - an increase of 73.4 per cent on the 213,374 cars sold in the same month last year.

However, Rover only sold 869 more cars, giving it a monthly total of 18,765 or 7 per cent of the market. In contrast, sales of Land-Rover four- wheel-drive vehicles doubled from 3,034 in March 1998 to 6,051.

A Rover spokesman blamed its poor performance on the withdrawal from sale of the Rover 100 and coupe and cabriolet versions of the Rover 200 and 400, and on the run-down in stocks of the Rover 600 and 800 in readiness for the launch of the Rover 75 in June.

March was the first time the year identifier has been changed to a different month in 32 years. There will be another letter change in September. The move to twice-yearly plate changes is designed to smooth out the traditional August sales hump which accounts for one quarter of annual sales. The SMMT is forecasting sales of 2.03 million for 1999.