BEIJING -- Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. will begin producing a sedan based on the Rover 75 lower-premium model in China in late 2006, says a Shanghai Automotive manager.
The sedan likely will be sold with the Shanghai Automotive badge, a first for the government-run carmaker.
The company builds cars for Volkswagen and General Motors in separate joint ventures.
A decision has not been made on the manufacturing site for the sedan, the manager says.
Local media reports say the car will be built at a plant owned by Nanjing Auto Group, a small manufacturer with excess capacity at its factory in Jiangsu province. Shanghai Automotive says it bought the intellectual property rights to the Rover 75 and 25 models, as well as 10 MG Rover engine designs, before MG Rover went into bankruptcy in April.
Some work already has begun on adapting the Rover 75 to China, say sources familiar with the project. Major work on the project should begin in October, says the Shanghai Automotive manager.
Former MG Rover researchers will help with the engineering changes. At Shanghai Automotive's request, engineering consulting firm Ricardo PLC of West Sussex, England, has hired dozens of former MG Rover researchers to work on Shanghai Automotive projects.
Before MG Rover collapsed, the British carmaker had about 300 researchers at its Longbridge plant in Birmingham, England, says William Baldwin-Charles, former corporate affairs manager at MG Rover.
At Shanghai Automotive's request, the former MG Rover employees will work at Ricardo offices in England.
It also is likely that teams from Ricardo will travel to Shanghai to work with Shanghai Automotive engineers, say sources from the companies involved.
The start of major work on adapting the Rover model to sell in China has been delayed by three months as MG Rover goes through bankruptcy in England.
You may e-mail Alysha Webb at