2007 Roewe W2 conceptEnlarge Photo
If the badge on the bonnet of the Roewe W2 Concept looks familiar, it’s no wonder. It was liberally lifted from the old Rover brand logo. But in this case, no one is complaining about the theft of intellectual property rights – a common concern with
Roewe is a new brand for SAIC, the
Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., a vast and growing conglomerate that has
entered into joint ventures with both General Motors and Volkswagen. But SAIC
also wants to become a true player in its own right, producing cars under its
own badge, as well as a collection of foreign names it has acquired. That
includes the former Ssangyong, of
The latter isn’t a misspelling, but the close proximity to Rover that SAIC had to settle for when it acquired the rights to the bankrupt British marque’s Rover 25 and 75 models.
The W2 is an example of what SAIC has in mind for the brand. It’s an updated version of the old Rover 75 and “demonstrates the attributes of an upcoming family car” soon to enter production, noted Dave Lindley, the British designer who oversees Roewe styling. The goal is to let Chinese styling rise to a truly “international” level, added Lindley, while the well-contented W2 also aims to show off SAIC’s engineering capabilities.
In the strange-bedfellow world of
Chinese industry, the various pieces of Rover may yet come back together. The
bulk of the British maker was purchased by Nanjing Automobile, which is
displaying both its MGF sports car and MG7 sedan – another remake of the Rover
75 – at this year’s
“I can declare we are looking forward to cooperation with Nanjing Auto,” SAIC Chairman Hu Maoyan, told the Associated Press, during the Shanghai Motor Show preview, adding that he believes “the government would be glad to see such cooperation.” With dozens of local players carving up the Chinese market, government officials have indeed endorsed a shakeout which, in the case of Rover, could bring the brand’s assets back together.
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