Rover vs. Rover in Chinese cage match!

The latest twist in the ongoing saga of the collapse of British automaker MG Rover is the resurrection of the Rover in China - twice. In its own inscrutable fashion, the Chinese government has authorized both Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. and Nanjing Automotive Corp. to produce versions of the Rover 75 sedan (pictured at right).
This bizarre turn of events resulted when SAIC bought the intellectual property rights to the Rover 25 and 75 sedans, but lost a bidding war for the production tooling to Nanjing Auto. Both companies are state-owned, with powerful allies in Beijing, so the central government came up with the Solomon-like decision to allow both companies to produce Rover-based cars.

Neither company owns the rights to the Rover brand name, still held by BMW, but both are trying to acquire it.

Of the two, Nanjing Auto has the biggest plans, including exports to the UK and Spain and revival of MG models.

Unfortunately, both companies' political clout seems to exceed their automotive engineering and production expertise. Nonetheless, both companies are forging ahead, with an SAIC model to be launched "soon" and Nanjing's version expected in late 2007. If you want a preview of what they might look like, check out the MG Rover website here.

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