Shorty's Soapbox

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Shorty's Soapbox. This will be an irregular feature, which will get written every time something in the press gets my back up. These views are purely my own and do not reflect in anyway the views of h2g2 or anyone else involved with this site.

At the moment it is the media frenzy over the Rover group sell off by BMW. Let me try and put all this garbage the press are spouting in a different light.

As you may or may not be aware of the Rover car plant at Longbridge in the West Midlands has been under threat for years. Crisis followed crisis until the firm was saved by BMW a couple of years back. The German car giant poured money into Rover, which sucked it in like a black hole. Now BMW are not totally without blame as, after buying Rover, they let them carry on pretty much as they have done for years, which is the reason they were in trouble in the first place. However everyone seemed quite happy, Rover kept making out-dated cars that no one wanted to buy and losing a fortune on each car it made and BMW kept pouring in money to Longbridge.

BMW, however, are not that big and they themselves were soon getting into financial trouble, as Rover had cost them somewhere in the region of £2 billion. They did what any sensible business would do, decided to cut their losses and run. Well this caused a huge outcry from the unions and the public alike. Yet I don't see how they didn't see it coming. Rover has been in difficulty for years and hasn't really done anything to change. Also, with the present state of the British motor industry and with consumers finally realising they are been ripped off and dealers finding themselves with thousands of cars they can't even give away, it seemed inevitable.

But look at it from BMW's point of view. Until the Rover fiasco they were a very successful car company who made very good cars. But now they have lost so much money that they themselves are in danger of been bought out. Rover was pulling their company under and this was unacceptable, so they put them up for sale to save themselves while they could.

Suddenly BMW are the bad guys and the Rover workers are the victims of a cruel heartless German corporation who don't care about them or their families. Well I say this, why should BMW act as social security for the people of Longbridge? If it hadn't been for BMW, Rover would have been bankrupt a long time ago and everybody would have been out of a job; at least they tried. Where were all the other giant car manufacturers like Ford or General Motors who have a lot more money? The simple answer is that no one wanted Rover (and they still don't) as can be seen by BMW selling them off for £10 to the Phoenix consortium.

The media have loved all of this, though, and have milked it for all it is worth. The British press likes nothing more than to stir up the old anti-German feelings and brainwash the dumber elements of society. They have splashed across their pages that Rover sales are higher than they have been in years, up 40-50%, and are trying to rub BMW's nose in it by stating in big headlines how BMW sales are down 40%. This, however, will only be a temporary state of affairs I feel as I would bet a large portion of those new Rovers on the road were bought by people who had a knee jerk reaction to all this and, under normal circumstances, would not have bought one.

I have a friend who did just that and, after paying a very large amount of money out and buying a nice shiny new Rover (which they at first couldn't find and so he was kept waiting 2 weeks), has now stated that he made a mistake and should have bought a Vauxhall instead... which is what he originally wanted.

The second hand trade in Rover's is not much better with prices falling faster than third world governments. Car auctions are letting them go at silly money just to get rid of them. At the end of the day it is up to the consumer. There is a lot of competition out there and Rover just doesn't make cars good enough to compete.

I have heard a lot of cynics say that BMW only bought into Rover so that they could get their hands on the patents for the more successful divisions like Land Rover and start producing there own. WHY???? I'm quite sure that their own engineers are quite capable of designing their own vehicles without having to buy a failing car company and steal their ideas. In my opinion the best thing that could have been done would have been to stop producing Rover's at Longbridge and used the factory to build BMW's, maybe even to have designed a new, smaller, eco-friendly car for us Brits who seem to be going eco-mad at the moment. Then they may have had a real chance at saving the factory.

So Rover has new owners but they aren't out of the brown and smelly stuff yet. I think that that they are in for a very rough ride over the coming months when sales drop off after all the media hype has died down. Then who will be the saviour of Longbridge?

As a final thought, Ford have just announced they will be ceasing car production at Dagenham early in the year 2002 with the loss of 2000 jobs, yet the media have merely announced this as unfortunate. This is not a sell off where the company has been sold with its workforce in tact, as BMW tried to do, but a complete end to car production at the plant. Why don't the media blow this out of all proportion too? Afraid of upsetting the Americans who own Ford, or is it just because the real reason was that the press wanted to have a cheap dig at the Germans and Rover was a convenient excuse.

Now I know I'll probably get a lot of stick for this article and no, I'm not German, but that is just how I see things.


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