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27th October 06

Buongiorno tvr?

So its been suggested that tvr is off to Turin to be made by Bertone. Is this possible? Is it probable? Is it a good idea?

Well Bertone definitely has the capability. Its Turin plant can produce up to 70,000 units per year and has been doing so for twenty odd years. It produces very high quality kit too. The likes of GM Astra Cabby and Coupe have all been produced there and the BMW C1 bike too, so quality won't be an issue. But is there any advantage?
Well the main reason for doing this would be cost. So would this be cost effective?


Reason 1, No factory requirement.
We happen to know (but cannot divulge) that a Deal has been struck for a UK Parts Distributor. The Deal is with a known and trusted tvr Specialist and with this Deal in place and production abroad, there is no need for a factory either in Blackpool or anywhere else.

Reason 2, No expensive equipment, development requirement.
With Bertone’s state-of-the-art factory and equipment, comes quality control and consistency without the need for buying all that expensive kit and experience in the UK.

Reason 3, No Workforce.
Anyone who runs a Business knows that staff are your greatest asset, but also your greatest overhead. UK workers aren’t cheap and if you factor in medical cover, Pensions and the like, the costs for a relatively large company like tvr Engineering are massive. Like him or loathe him, NS has been footing the bill for a considerable time and those costs must now be huge! He can now obtain a unit cost from Bertone, add shipping costs, stick on a margin and Bob’s your uncle. Sad but true.

So, who is the villain? Well, not NS IMHO. Badly advised (or possibly to arrogant) during the original buy out, he found himself buying less than half of what he thought he had. Someone in his position coming from the background he had, must have been amazed that this was how it worked over here, but that was the Deal he ended up with. Yes he got the car builder, but the factory, the other 12 odd tvr companies that had been created? No.

So was it Peter Wheeler? Well the guy that designed the “Griff” and saved tvr in the 90s can’t be all that bad in my book. He also managed to sell a company that was in a bit of bother for a huge (undisclosed) sum in the many millions. Rover and the Government could have learned a lot from him. An astute Businessman with a flair for car design it seems, but if he did “tuck up” the new guy, does the blame for tvrs current problems lie with him? Well with a HUGE bill for purchase AND a HUGE monthly rent on the buildings he thought he owned, let alone “alleged” supply problems from suppliers with unpaid invoices…I leave you to make up your own mind.

Is a EU move a good thing?
Well not for the UK tvr workforce. Much put upon over the last few years and ever loyal, they are of course the real losers in all this. Years of experience and dedication will now be wasted and many will have to retrain for new jobs or move from their family homes to new areas. A sad loss to them and the town.
But what about the Brand? In just about every form of manufacturing, Europe (in most cases Eastern Europe or even the Far-East) is where it’s at. To be quite honest, I’m not too surprised that the move is on, but I am surprised at the destination. Costs are similar, and if you have to ship, the costs from Poland, Czech Republic or the East are very similar…yet labour costs are about 20%! Volkswagon Group, BMW and the like have been doing this for years and Nobles have been produced in South America quite a while too.

It was difficult to see a way forward without the injection of many more millions into the Plant. There has been huge amounts pumped in already, but they have gone in wages and development / outstanding costs and I guess even someone like NS has a limit. Not so much in how much he has, but in how much it’s viable to spend. There are also “Deals” whispered about new / developed engines, new markets and not least new cars, so we must all wait as usual and hope that they are stuff a great big V8 into a tiny plastic shell designed with some real flair…it’s a big ask!

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