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Rover 75 (2009) reborn as a hybrid

Published: 03 June 2007

The olde-worlde 75 reborn as a hybrid? Whatever next…

Amidst the confusion about Chinese MGs and Rovers, would-be partner to the Longbridge company, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) has quietly revealed an innovative petrol/electric hybrid version of the model formerly known as the Rover 75. The Hybrid, unveiled at the Beijing Motor Show, and mooted for production before the end of the decade, heads an ambitiously priced line-up of V6 saloons that look and feel like Rover 75s, but instead wear the Roewe 750 badge. The Roewe 750 recently entered production in China, powered by local versions of the KV6 engine – and the Hybrid may head the range by the time of the car’s 2009 European introduction. It uses a four-cylinder petrol engine allied to an electric motor - similar to the Prius model - and can run on battery power alone around town.

I’m utterly confused by who owns what of MG Rover…

You’re not alone. In 2005, SAIC unsuccessfully bid for the remnants of MG Rover after buying the intellectual property rights to the 25 and 75. It transformed the 75 into the Roewe 750 with the help of British consultancy Ricardo Engineering, despite losing a battle with Ford over ownership of the Rover name. The Roewe badge (above) is the result. Within weeks, the situation will be confused by the launch of Nanjing’s MG 7Z (nee ZT), which will be built on tooling removed from Longbridge last year. NAC-MG bought the remains of the Birmingham factory last year for £53m, shipped much of it to China, and the reincarnated MGs will be built on the re-housed 75/ZT production line.

So there are two different 75 models, built by competing Chinese companies?

Yep. In a nutshell, SAIC is building its 75 because it bought the rights from a dying MG Rover in 2004, whereas NAC-MG are doing it because it has the name and the tooling – resulting in two almost identical cars fighting for the same buyers. Confusing, isn’t it? The MG 7Z will beat the Roewe 750 into Europe showrooms, and is scheduled to land later this year. Dealers are already being sought for the reincarnated marque, and although the company is making no predictions about sales, it’s quietly confident. It won’t harm NAC-MG’s perceived ‘Britishness’ in European markets that the TF roadster (above) will be re-entering limited production in Longbridge this summer – although local content will be limited by the use of a Chinese engine.

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