The firmer hand BMW AG is using to run its Rover Group subsidiary also is being felt in the United States.
Key corporate functions at Land Rover North America Inc. in Lanham, Md. - human resources, legal, finance and accounts payable and computer services - were merged with BMW of North America Inc. in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., on Saturday, May 1. A handful of positions probably will be moved to New Jersey.
'We are, after all, one company,' said BMW spokesman Jack Pitney. He said U.S. sales and marketing functions will not be merged.
Also last week, BMW broke ground for a $28 million North American engineering and emissions testing center in Oxnard, Calif., to handle both BMW and Land Rover brands, and presumably Rover passenger car brands, when they arrive in this market in the next couple of years.
The new center adjoins the BMW vehicle preparation center at the Port of Hueneme. To get ready for bigger sales volumes, BMW also began a $1.2 million expansion and renovation of the vehicle preparation center. It already handles both BMW and Land Rover vehicles.
Earlier this year, Rover Engineering North America moved its engineering operations from Phoenix to the old BMW Group engineering center in Marina del Rey, Calif.
Meanwhile, Tom Purves, the new chairman of BMW (US) Holding Corp., also took office effective May 1. As of late last year, that job included responsibility for Land Rover North America. Previously, its president and CEO, Charlie Hughes, reported to Land Rover in Great Britain.
Munich-based BMW AG bought Rover Group in 1994. But then-BMW Chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder advocated nearly a hands-off approach to managing Rover. Pischetsrieder lost his job in February amid continuing losses at Rover.
Said Mark Schirmer, spokesman for Land Rover North America: 'There is a call to be more efficient as a group. That's been going on the last six or eight months.'