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Rover's return to Europe as Roewe by 2009

Date: 25 April 2007   |   Author: Guy Bird

The defunct Rover car marque could return to Europe "within three years" reborn as 'Roewe' according to a source close to the company.

The revelation came as the new Roewe brand - complete with heraldic-style gold lions and sword on a red and black crest in place of the Rover badge now owned by Ford - showed a trio of products at the Shanghai show.

Beyond the Chinese-made Roewe 750 - a heavily tweaked Rover 75 featuring a stretched wheelbase and the old 75 V8's smart Audi-esque gapey grille already on sale in China - the impressive and upmarket unveil also showed off an internally developed hybrid version of the 750 that could be in showrooms by 2008 and the undoubted star of the stand - the new Roewe W2 concept.

Roewe's chief engineer for new vehicle programmes, Steve Garside, said the Rover 45-sized saloon concept would go on sale in China in a guise not too far removed from the show car within 12 months - probably in late 2007.

He told BusinessCar: "In terms of underpinnings and chassis it's all there. We're in the tooling and validation phase now. The concept's exterior proportions are accurate to the production version with a high waistline and high side crease designed for full European competitiveness and ready for export." Garside also confirmed the car was aiming for five-star EuroNCAP safety and would meet pedestrian impact legislation and Euro4 emissions standards. As a result it could easily go on sale in Europe.

Parent company SAIC Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corporation (SAIC) currently holds the design rights to the Rover 25 and 75 models but not the Rover name that Ford finally acquired the rights to last year - in a move thought to be about protecting its Land Rover products.

Rival Nanjing Automobile Corporation (NAC) also launched its version of the Rover 75 - the MG7 - at the Shanghai show and is planning to restart sales of UK-built MGTF sportscars in the UK by later summer.