Blog: Dave LeggettCityRover pricing

Dave Leggett | 10 February 2004

MG Rover's management deserves some credit for having the imagination to construct the CityRover (Indica) supply deal with India's Tata Motors. CityRover fills the entry-level gap in the Rover line-up that dealers have been, for years, begging would be filled after the Rover 100 was dropped. And MG Rover doesn't have to spend money it doesn't have on developing a fresh product. The management are resourceful guys batting on a sticky wicket and the Tata Motors tie-up could be very valuable for Rover in the long run (if there is a long run).

But we always knew there were risks with respect to the small car deal. Have the assumptions on the nature of the product and a commensurate market price gone a little awry? It does have to be shipped from India and I don’t know what added value treatment goes into the Indicas designated to be CityRovers and what the transfer prices look like. But the list prices look a bit optimistic (starting at £6,495) on a vehicle that isn’t exactly state of the art and has been designed and constructed to meet the demands of the Indian marketplace rather than that of Western Europe (no disrepect to anyone intended; Indica does a great job for Tata Motors).

If it’s cheap-as-chips, that’s not a problem. People will say, well, it is cheap. But price it at a level comparable to the latest European Car of the Year – the Fiat Panda – or Toyota Yaris and maybe shifting it will be an uphill task. Initial press reviews of CityRover here are not very encouraging. Factor in the uncertainties over quality - justified or not, it's not exactly tried and tested - and CityRover has a tough job on its hands. Sure, there will be some pent-up demand in Britain from people who go dewy eyed at the mere mention of the old Metro/100, but are there enough of them? And I cannot imagine anyone at MG Rover really believes that the Rover badge commands some sort of price premium, especially at this end of the market. Conquest customers from other brands will be hard to come by, I fear. It just doesn't seem to quite add up at the prices MG Rover is looking for. I hope I'm wrong though. Things could start to look a bit bleak for Longbridge later this year if the CityRover bombs and there's still no sign of the 45 replacement.


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