06 September 2001 | David Arminas
MG Rover's supply chain director has confirmed that the company could be the first European car maker to move supplier collaboration onsite for research and development.
"Having tier-one suppliers move on to our premises to work more closely on research and development is an option that MG Rover has not ruled out," Tony Shine told SM.
Pioneered in South America by US car makers, such schemes see major suppliers set up facilities in a car maker's factory to assume a greater share of the cost and risk for designing and assembly of units like interiors.
Rover has already introduced onsite assembly. "With the introduction of the Rover 75 to Longbridge in October 2000, we established an integrated logistics centre where three first-tier suppliers - Johnson Controls, Plastic Omnium and Faurecia - late-configure facia, headliners and bumpers," Shine said.
MG Rover is discussing with suppliers how to proceed with development of a replacement for its Rover 45, set for production in 2004. The 45 is derived from an earlier Honda Civic platform, for which the licence runs out in 2003.
Automotive analysts believe MG Rover will survive only if it has major supplier link-ups. Earlier this year the company was thought to be in talks with Fiat for a possible engine deal and Malaysia's Proton car company for a basic frame-and-chassis deal.
Total car production should reach 200,000 and in July senior management said the company would break even in 2002.