It’s often the smaller stories within the industry which are the most interesting. Take Potenza’s acquisition of Westfield back in 2006, for example.
You’ve probably never heard much about Potenza, but the firm’s beginnings could prove significant in shaping the future direction of Westfield.
Potenza Technology was set up in 1999 when BMW closed down MG Rover’s hybrid and electric research unit. Paul Faithfull was one of the leaders of Rover’s future technology research and thought the now defunct British company was onto such a good thing, he decided to take on its R&D in his own company.
At the time, says Faithfull, Rover’s research was the most advanced in the world. “The problem was,” he says, “the market wasn’t ready for the tech and the costs were too high, so we couldn’t do anything”.
So what was going on at Longbridge and on university campuses in the West Midlands? Faithfull revealed to me three of Rover's behind closed doors projects which never saw the light of day.
His team created two all–electric Metros and a military-spec Defender hybrid that was partly powered by batteries from on-board army radios. Most interesting of all though was the Highlander, a short-wheelbase Defender which had an electric motor powering each wheel.