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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 May, 2004, 17:53 GMT 18:53 UK
New Morgan to take US by storm
By Jorn Madslien
BBC News Online business reporter at the Birmingham Motorshow

The British sports car maker Morgan Motor Company has launched a new car that it hopes will more than double its sales in the US.

Morgan has invested more than 2m in the new Aero 8, which will be on show for the first time in the UK when the Birmingham motor show opens its doors to the public on Thursday, the company's sales and marketing director Matthew Parkin told BBC News Online.

Last year, Morgan sold 100 cars in the US, and it has already pre-sold the same number of the 58,000 Aero 8 which replaces its Plus 8 model.

Sales are then expected to rise to 200-250 per year, Mr Parkin predicted.

New engine

Morgan was recently forced to withdraw its Plus 8 model, which was kitted out with an old V8 Land Rover engine, due to US emission regulations.

A virtually identical car had its world premiere at the Birmingham show, but even this new Roadster has failed the strict US emission regulations.

The Aero 8 meets all European and US Federal approval requirements - following what Mr Parkin considered to be 'painful' crash tests of 15 of its pretty much hand built cars - and will thus be the one to take over from the Plus 8 in the US.

The Aero 8 is equipped with the latest BMW 6-series 4.4 litre V8 engine, and this gives it a great deal of power given that its weight is just about half that of its donor car.

Retro image

The US market is very important for Morgan, though as yet it sells more cars in the UK.

More sales to American drivers will help bring total production from 650 cars per year to 750 cars per year.

That will help lift its output to reach "critical mass", said Mr Parkin.

Key to Morgan's survival is the car maker's refusal to radically alter its design. The car has changed a fair bit under the skin, but its looks have hardly been altered at all.

"They all want them to look exactly like the old models," said Mr Parkin.

Morgan describes itself as "the world's oldest independently-owned car company".


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