MG Rover will develop the replacement for its lower-medium 45 model with little or no help from partner Brilliance China Automotive, a top executive said.
The recent joint venture between MG Rover and Brilliance China will allow the companies to work together on product development. But the 45 replacement will be a British creation, said Rob Oldaker, MG Rover director of product development.
MG Rover gave some clues about the 45 replacement's styling direction when it showed the TCV concept at last month's Geneva auto show. The production version of the new 45 is due in early 2004.
Most development work is finished, in terms of determining platform hard points and powertrains. Although MGRover has made no official statement, the 45 replacement will almost certainly use a shortened version of the Rover 75 platform. The 75 platform was developed so it could be utilized by both front- and rear-drive vehicles. MG Rover is still in process of determining other derivatives that could come from the platform. Oldaker would not confirm that MG Rover will use the longstanding K-series engine range for the 45 replacement. But he said that the engine 'has a good life ahead of it.'
From a research and development perspective, the relationship between MG Rover and China Brilliance is based more on obtaining additional purchasing power than any technical knowledge the Chinese automaker might provide, Oldaker said.
MG Rover's supplier base in the English midlands does not need to worry about losing business to low-price Chinese competitors, he said.
MG- and Rover-badged cars to be sold in China will be built in China. But there is a possibility that a MG or Rover for sale in Europe could be assembled in China as well as the UK. The negotiations are continuing on this issue, Oldaker said.
The two automakers have one overlap in their lineups. The Rover 75 sedan and the recently developed Brilliance Zhonghua have similar dimensions.
Oldaker doubts that MG Rover will adopt any of the Zhonghua's features in the 75. But he said the Zhonghua may be lightly redesigned so its parts can be sourced from the same suppliers that provide modules for the 75.