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Old 04-28-2005, 08:27   #1 (permalink)
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US:Land Rover stockpiling MG Rover-produced engines for use in Freelander ute

Land Rover stockpiling MG Rover-produced engines for use in Freelander ute

RICHARD TRUETT | Automotive News

Land Rover expects a smooth run for the Freelander SUV until a model change in July 2006, even though it likely won't get any more engines from MG Rover Group Ltd.

All U.S.-bound Freelanders are equipped with a 2.5-liter V-6 engine built by Powertrain Ltd., the engine and transmission division of MG Rover. In Europe, the Freelander is offered with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder Rover-built engine as well as a diesel from BMW AG.

Foresaw trouble

Land Rover spokesman Mark Foster in England said the company anticipated trouble at MG Rover and began stockpiling the 1.8- and 2.5-liter engines last year. Foster would not give the number of engines Land Rover has stockpiled but did say it's in the thousands.

MG Rover filed for a form of bankruptcy April 7 and halted all engine and car production at its plants in Longbridge, England. Attempts to find a buyer failed, and the company is being broken up and sold. About 5,000 of MG Rover's 6,100 workers have lost their jobs.

"After the end of the model year we'll have a completely new model of Freelander with no shared parts from the current model," Foster said. "It's new from the ground up and will be powered by Ford engines."

Foster said about 25 percent of the 61,122 Freelanders sold globally in 2004 had MG Rover engines. Land Rover sold 5,430 Freelanders in the United States last year. U.S. sales in the first three months of this year were 691.

Plentiful parts

Repair parts also will be plentiful, said Foster, because most of the maintenance items such as gaskets, valves, water pumps, filters and seals can be sourced from their original suppliers.

Freelander's V-6 and four-cylinder engines are likely to make their way back into production in China. Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., with which MG Rover hoped to merge, owns the production rights to the engines.

Land Rover is not the only automaker to be affected by the MG Rover failure.

Powertrain also sells drivetrains to specialist sports car makers Lotus and Caterham.
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