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Wednesday, June 16, 1999 Published at 22:13 GMT 23:13 UK

Business: The Company File

Rover's 75 reasons to be hopeful

Rover are hoping for a smooth ride for their new 75

Rover's latest car goes on sale for the first time, with the future hopes of the company riding on its success.

Patrick Bartlett: "A turning point in Rover's troubled recent history"
The new Rover 75 hits the road on Thursday, with Rover keeping its fingers crossed that the retro-styled saloon will lift its flagging fortunes.

The car is being built at the BMW-owned company's Cowley plant in Oxford, with an extra 800 workers drafted in to help production.

The Rover File
Rover sales in the UK have fallen by more than 29% in the first five months of 1999, and the 75 is seen as a weapon to reverse the slump.

Sales are likely to be helped by the warm reception it has received from the motoring press.

Rover's Director of Marketing John Sanders: "We're very confident that we'll get the sales we need"
Pre-sales were boosted when What Car? magazine voted the 75 its Car of the Year 1999.

And other reviewers have enthused about its looks and performance, with Car World saying the 75 "stole the show" at the International Motor Show in Birmingham last October.

[ image: The 75's interior has a traditional look]
The 75's interior has a traditional look
The design of the Rover 75 raised some eyebrows when unveiled, as it harks back to traditional "British" styling that led some reviewers to label it a "nostalgia trip".

But Rover is confident the design will sell well abroad, where up to 70% of the cars are expected to go.

The company denies the Rover 75 is a "make-or-break" model, but hopes it will help re-establish the brand name.

Production of the 75 will reach 1,660 cars a week by July, increasing to 2,800 by the end of the year.

Karl Ludvigsen from independent motor consultants Ludvigsen Associates thinks it was worth the wait?
The company is believed to be aiming to sell 50,000 75s this year, and twice that number in 2000.

The model starts at £19,530 on the road, with a top-of-the-range price of £25,630.

The car will be officially lauched to the sound of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on London's South Bank on Wednesday.

The orchestra will play a 10-minute piece composed by former Eurythmics star Dave Stewart, and will include the sound of 75 Rover 75s honking their horns.

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Internet Links

The Rover 75

The Official Rover Site

Car World Rover 75 Review

What Car? Online

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