MG Rover is to return to Japan In conjunction with new partner Autotrading Luft.

MG and Rover cars brands have enjoyed some success in the Japanese market over the years and the Rover 75 was voted 'Import car of the year' when the company was still under BMW ownership. Due to contractual obligations with BMW, independent MG Rover Group has until now been restricted from selling its cars in Japan.

Autotrading Luft is based in Nagoya and will trade as MG Rover Nippon. Sales will start during July with a focus on the Rover 75 saloon and Tourer (wagon), the MG TF roadster and the 75-based MG ZT and MG ZT-T. MG Rover has wisely avoided pitching its ageing 25 and 45, and their MG clones, into the highly competitive Japanese import market.

Initially six retail outlets will be fully operational, progressively increasing to over 20.

MG Rover Group worldwide sales and marketing director John Sanders said: "This is an important milestone for our strategy of growth in markets outside Western Europe. Japan is the world's second largest car market and we have a number of loyal customers who are keen to see the return of MG and Rover cars."