The MG and Rover brands are to return to New Zealand with the announcement of a new importer called MG Rover New Zealand headed by general manager Andrew Bayliss.

The MG, Rover and Land Rover brands were previously imported by the German-owned BMW New Zealand operation in a pioneering joint distribution arrangement that saw them sharing dealership space with the German marque for several years.

After BMW sold MG Rover to a private UK consortium and Land Rover to Ford, the Kiwi Land Rover operation moved to Ford New Zealand’s south Auckland premises while BMW NZ continued to provide MG Rover service and parts pending the appointment of a new distributor.

MG Rover New Zealand plans to launch during the third-quarter of 2002.

“We are thrilled to have won the MG and Rover franchise,” said Bayliss, who previously managed Peugeot Concessionaires New Zealand and spent several years with New Zealand’s largest BMW retail operation in Auckland.

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“The brands’ re-launch into New Zealand comes at a time when the two marques are enjoying high levels of interest in overseas markets, and the company is in a phase of launching significant new products over the next few years.”

MG Rover’s New Zealand line-up will include a number of models not previously imported including the 75 Tourer (estate) Connoisseur (the 75 saloon won the New Zealand Car Of The Year Award in 1999) and a number of MG models including the ZR 160, the V6-powered ZS and the flagship ZT saloon and ZT-T estate.

Bayliss also indicated he plans to import the upcoming rear-drive MG ZT sports saloon and estate models powered by Ford V8 engines.