design and engineering firm Bertone is set to take over
production of the TVR sports cars with the English
automotive brand set to be officially re-launched at the
Geneva Motor Show next March, well-placed sources have
revealed. Ever since last Wednesday's shock official
announcement that production would cease at the Blackpool
factory, the tiny marque's long-term home, and move to
Europe, speculation has raged as to the plans of its Russian
owner Nicolai Smolenski.
The tumultuous week of speculation came with an official
announcement on Wednesday that TVR would quit the UK, itself
a statement that arrived barely months after Smolenski had
proclaimed that TVR would be moving to a new Blackpool site
and would open a new head office in the region. The press
release on Wednesday read: "Staff at TVR's Blackpool factory
have been informed today that the company is planning to
outsource all production. Agreements are being finalised for
the 2007 run of Tuscan, Tuscan Convertible and Sagaris to be
produced in Europe while fully built powertrains - straight
six, four-litre TVR engines including clutch and gearbox –
are due to be produced in the UK."
On Wednesday Smolenski said: "We are extremely sorry that,
after a period of uncertainty and raised hopes that we could
continue production ourselves in Blackpool, we have had to
make this decision. We need to secure the future of the
company and move it forward. I am afraid we see no other way
to do so." The statement then added that: "consultation has
begun with staff and the Transport & General Workers Union
on redundancy and counselling support is being put in place.
TVR plans to continue with all current arrangements for the
supply of cars and parts. Discussions are being held with
key suppliers about future relationships. TVR boss Smolenski
continued to say: “We are acutely aware of the shock and
distress this will cause for our staff and their families.
We will ensure that we meet all our responsibilities towards
them over the coming months.
Bertone will assemble the initial new model range in
its Turin factories. This range is expected to focus
on heavily revised "Model Year 2007" versions of the
Sagaris, Tuscan and Tuscan convertible sports cars.
A new Cerbera (above) will also be added to the
line-up next year.
In recent years the TVR Tuscan model has been
sporadically raced by several private teams with
some factory support in a number of major sports car
series' including the FIA GT and British GT
Championship, as well as in the showcase Le Mans 24
Bertone is set to take over production of TVR sports
car with the brand set to be officially re-launched
at the Geneva Motor Show next March. Above: The TVR
"We would also like to express our gratitude to all those
who have worked with us over the past months to try to
maintain the company in Blackpool. We shall be making
further announcements in due course about our plans which we
believe represent a major advance for the proud name of TVR.
But for the time being we are concentrating on our staff in
Blackpool and the consultation process," added Smolenski.
Italian design and engineering house are seeking to reinvent
themselves after a quiet recent period and with Nuccio
Bertone's widow Lilli now firmly at the helm and determined
to push the famous name back into the spotlight. With a
production run of tweaked Mini Cooper models (dubbed "Works
Grand Prix") just behind them, Bertone have been recently
been looking to build a new folding hardtop
"coupé-convertible" model for Fiat Auto, based around their
innovative Suagnà concept car which was revealed at this
year's Geneva Motor Show, and which is developed on the new
Fiat Grande Punto platform. Alongside this proposed project
Bertone is also seeking to build a new-generation Alfa GT
Coupé (they styled the very well received current model,
which was developed on the Alfa 156 saloon's architecture)
this time though it is expected to be developed around the
platform of the next-generation Alfa 147, due to arrive in
two years time.
Bertone will assemble the initial new model range in its
Turin factories. This range is expected to focus on heavily
revised "Model Year 2007" versions of the Sagaris, Tuscan
and Tuscan convertible sports cars. A new Cerbera will also
be added to the line-up next year. The first MY2007 models
will be presented at next spring's Geneva Motor Show where
the marque will be re-launch in a blaze of publicity. The
next major engineering contribution to the new cars will
come from Ricardo plc,
one of the
world’s leading powertrain, driveline and transmission
technology providers. In August the reached an agreement
with Smolenski which will see them take over full production
of TVR's "Speed Six" 6-cylinder engine, re-working it to
achieve EURO5 emission compliance, and major drivetrain
components. Ricardo will now install a dedicated production
line to build and assemble the drivetrains which will be
shipped to Turin to be installed in the cars on the Bertone
assembly line. Other major component suppliers have been
retained, to ensure that as smooth a transition to the new
geographical location is possible.
Meanwhile in Geneva next year TVR will also announce an
ambitious new GT racing programme that will see the brand
name well represented in top-class international GT racing.
In recent years the TVR Tuscan model has been sporadically
raced by several private teams with some factory support in
a number of major sports car series' including the FIA GT
and British GT Championship, as well as in the showcase Le
Mans 24 Hours.