LONGBRIDGE, BIRMINGHAM - recent rumours are confirmed by Phoenix Venture Holdings, owners of MG Rover. A new model is to be launched which it is hoped will revive Rover's flagging fortunes.
John Towers, chairman of Phoenix, unveiled the new vehicle's prototype - Ark Rover mk1 - to stunned silence at a press conference this lunchtime. It seems the company is betting its future on a departure from its traditional road vehicles, and entering the maritime market instead.
To a chorus of surprised questions from reporters, Mr Towers explained that Rover had been unable to compete in the motor vehicle market because its research and development costs for new models could not be economically spread across the low volume of car sales it was achieving. By shifting its attention to a design quite literally out of the ark, it expected to greatly reduce such costs, and achieve payback in less than 12 months.
Mr Towers was optimistic about a bright future for the new model. "We think our target market segment will be mainly seaside areas, where the dangers due to sea level rises from global warming are very real. Homeowners are facing the prospect of losing their property in the coming years, and one of our Ark Rovers will put their minds at rest. Simply park in the back garden, and move in when the waters start lapping."
"This technology has been around for donkeys' years, so we will be on familiar territory building them. It was good enough for Noah, and is still a good solution to meet today's domestic flood survival needs".
Glossy booklets issued to journalists showed a range of options and accessories including a foldaway olive branch for the glove compartment, and a vast range of animals, supplied in pairs. The traditional Rover market also seems to have been in the minds of the designers, since they offer a leather-clad tiller, and matching leather backless sailing gloves.
Mr Towers poured scorn on other rumours that Prof Colin Pillinger had been engaged to build a revised version of the company's ill-fated Mars Rover project, "What - do you think we're nuts?"