LONDON - BMW AG will make a two-pronged attack on the mid-luxury market when Rover Group's R40 sedan joins the BMW 5 series in that segment next summer.
Europe will be the major market for the R40, but it has been engineered for North America. BMW has not decided on its distribution strategy for the United States and Canada; if the car goes there, it will be after 2000.
Until now, the positioning of the new Rover was not always clear, but last week Rover offered some details in an effort to keep the new Jaguar S Type from getting all the publicity.
The new Rover is more than a replacement for the 600 and 800. As Rover's first new car developed after BMW took over in 1994, and as the flagship of the marque, it shows BMW's strategy for Rover.
Pitting the R40 against the Jaguar S Type also puts it against the BMW 5 series in the mid-luxury category.
BMW invested £400 million (about $653.2 million) in the R40, which will arrive in dealerships by mid-1999. The Jaguar S Type goes on sale next April.
The R40 will be shown at the Birmingham auto show in the United Kingdom in October. At least 100,000 cars will be produced annually in Oxford, United Kingdom, double the production of the 600/800.