German car giant BMW is on course to turn out its first Rolls-Royce a year from now.

BMW is creating a £60 million new plant in Goodwood, near Chichester, in time for its takeover of the luxury Rolls marque.

The company is recruiting 350 people for the plant and has received more than 1,000 applications.

Details of the first BMW-built Rolls-Royce will be made later this year, with the German company promising to give the traditional style a modern interpretation.

BMW is taking over the Rolls-Royce operation from rival German company Volkswagen, which will produce luxury models from Crewe in Cheshire until the end of 2002.

After that, Volkswagen will be left with the Bentley Cars side of the business, while Rolls production will switch to Goodwood.

There was anger from conservationists when the plant was given the go-ahead. They feared the countryside would be ruined.