Tag Archives: New and Future MGs

Mid-Range MG 6 Launches In Shanghai

The MG 6 mid-class hatchback, equipped with a 1.8-liter turbo engine, will be produced by SAIC Motor Passenger Vehicle Co in a plant in Lingang.

“There will be market potential for the MG 6 if SAIC prices the car competitively,” said Ye Sheng, an auto analyst at automotive consulting firm, B. Thinking Management, in Shanghai.

MG 6
MG 6
The nation’s biggest car maker will also start production of the MG 6 in a plant in the United Kingdom next year as it tries to revive the 85-year history of the British icon globally. It said the MG 6, which debuted at the Shanghai auto show in April, is specifically designed for Asian and European markets.

SAIC has operated the sporty MG brand as its own since the car maker acquired smaller domestic rival Nanjing Auto at the end of 2007. SAIC now produces the MG 7, MG 3SW and MG TF sports car in China as well as the Roewe series that came from the Rover Group of the UK.
Despite its western pedigree, MG remains first and foremost a brand focused on the Chinese market first and overseas markets second, and if it can assuage western concerns about product safety and quality upon its British launch next year, it could give Chinese (or at least Chinese-owned) car companies a much-needed PR boost.

MG TF production halted

from Autocar

MG TF production halted
MG TF production halted

MG Motor is to halt production of the Longbridge-built TF sports car for six months until March next year.

Sales of the TF, the only vehicle now built at the once-massive Longbridge factory in Birmingham, have been modest with only 265 sold during the first nine months of this year, although September has been the best month yet for the revived marque with 65 cars sold.

Newly appointed sales and marketing director Guy Jones says that the low volume TF is ‘batch built’, and that the summer selling season, which runs from March to September, is now over.

Despite introducing a 50-copy limited edition 85th anniversary edition, all of which have been sold, production will not restart until next spring. The small sports car market is down 30 per cent this year and 40 per cent since 2007, adds Jones, who thinks that ‘up to 20’ of the 100-strong vehicle assembly workforce will need to be laid off.

When production does restart it will be with a modified line-up, a series production version of the limited edition, which features a mildly revised chassis and interior, going on sale positioned above the entry level £13,511 TF 135.

Despite the shutdown Jones, who previously held the same job at the LDV van company, is optimistic about the future for MG and Longbridge. Owners Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, China’s biggest indigenous car manufacturer, have ‘ambitious plans for the MG brand,’ he says.

These are thought to include the development of a new range of sports cars to be designed, developed and built at the company’s British factory. But it’s not clear whether earlier plans to manufacture the MG7, a Focus class hatchback also sold as the Roewe 550 in China, will see UK manufacture. But of the 300 staff currently on site some 200 are in design and engineering.

Jones claims that more details of SAICs plans for MG and Longbridge will be revealed ‘soon’, while adding that the vehicle assembly halls have recently been redecorated. In China, the development of the Roewe and MG marques is going well according to Jones. SAIC is expecting to sell some 50,000 Roewes and MGs in 2009 – ahead of its target.

MG TF LE500: The Return of MG

MG is back in business with the TF LE500, a revised version of what used to be Britain’s most popular sports car. But can it and the now Chinese-owned brand succeed in the modern world? Peter Hall reports

Do you recall the story of Rip Van Winkle? Lovable but lazy bloke falls into dubious company, gets drunk and sleeps for several years. Returns to find the world much changed, his friends long gone. Resumes a life of idleness and eventually dies of old age.

We can only hope that the fate of Britain’s most popular sports car is more inspirational. Thirteen years have passed since the car you see here made its debut as the MGF, the first genuinely new model from the venerable MG marque since the demise of the MGB GT in 1980, although it was another seven years before the MGF was transformed into a sports car worthy of the brand’s sporting heritage. Sadly the revised TF lived only three years before the collapse of MG Rover, the rump of a once-great industry abused by British governments, trade unions and management, picked up and discarded by BMW and preyed upon by vulture capitalists before the bones were thrown to the Nanjing Automobile Company (NAC) and the Shanghai Automobile Industry Corporation (SAIC).

Now, after a hiatus of three years, the MGTF is back in production. But the world has changed a great deal in that time. What hope can there be for what is basically a 13-year old car (albeit revised) from an 84-year old marque that once epitomised a British tradition and is now owned by the Chinese?

As a nation we might now be more cynical than complacent, but let’s not rush to judgement before we’ve covered a few miles on what the revitalised MG concern describes hopefully as “a new journey”.

First, the corporate status of the marque needs some explanation. MG and MG Rover’s Longbridge factory were originally acquired by NAC, which among its other activities can claim to be China’s oldest car maker. In a recent deal brokered by the Chinese government (signed off on April 8), NAC’s automotive sector (including Longbridge) was acquired by SAIC, China’s biggest vehicle manufacturer and the owner of Rover (or Roewe as it is called there); in addition SAIC owns a 51 per cent stake in SsangYong and is involved in joint ventures with General Motors and Volkswagen. It has worked with Shoreham-based Ricardo to develop new cars, and established the Shanghai Motor Technical Centre (SMTC UK) at Leamington Spa (plus a design studio at Coventry) to provide engineering and design skills for both MG and Roewe; the “new” MGTF was re-engineered here and chief designer Tony Williams (who previously worked under Peter Stevens) and his colleagues are now working on a range of forthcoming MG and Roewe models, pending their move later this year to a new facility at Longbridge, which will also be the headquarters for R&D, marketing, sales, distribution and training. A UK network of enthusiastic independent dealerships is being established, with almost 50 already signed up and more to come.

No fewer than four new SMTC UK-designed MGs are expected within the next five years. An upper-medium- (Mondeo) sized car based on the existing Roewe 550 platform will roll off the old Rover 75 line at Longbridge in 2010, followed by a mid- (Focus) sized model, a supermini and an all-new replacement for the TF.

MG is SAIC’s flagship brand for Europe and all the above will be assembled in the West Midlands in order to satisfy European quality expectations, although they will also be manufactured in China (where the bodyshells are made) and go on sale first in that fast-expanding, right-hand-drive market; for the next five years at least there are no plans to import finished cars from China to the West. After the UK and Eire, MG has its sights set on Germany, France, Italy and Spain; it has US ambitions only for the first of the brand-new models.

Will all this come to pass? Notwithstanding NAC’s £50 million investment at Longbridge, the development of a mass-market car usually costs something like £5 billion, against which SAIC’s UK investment of tens of millions on a project-by-project basis seems minuscule. SAIC’s investment in China is much greater, of course, and the British operation can probably survive and prosper for as long as its design and engineering skills are still seen as crucial by the Anglophiliac Chinese. Even when amalgamated at Longbridge, the MG workforce will number a few hundreds rather than thousands – small comfort to the 6,000 MG Rover workers who lost their jobs three years ago and remain understandably bitter about their fate, but surely better than nothing.

Much depends on satisfying the customer. MG retains an enviable heritage and reputation among its devotees worldwide, but it’s important that the new cars live up to expectations. With the revitalised TF, the omens are generally good. The first 500 are being sold in LE500 limited-edition form, equipped as standard with what were previously optional extras – leather upholstery, piano-black trim, sports seats, detachable hardtop, MP3 audio, air-conditioning, parking sensors and so on, plus a numbered plaque and certificate – but all TFs feature a number of significant revisions.

Revival of TF roadster shows the Spirit of MG is still alive and well!

MG TF
MG TF

It’s the roadster revival of the decade! Auto Express can exclusively take the wraps off the car that’s sure to get British fans hot under the collar: the new MG TF.

Emerging from the ashes of the famous company, the roadster is the first sign that the spirit of MG is alive and well, even though the brand is in the hands of Chinese owners.

This stunning model is set to replace the existing TF – production of which is back on track at MG Rover’s old home of Longbridge in the West Midlands – and will go on sale around 2010. And there’s not only a convertible planned, but a coupe, too!

The new TF is based around the Roewe 550 compact hatch, which made its debut at the Beijing Motor Show. It will feature a rear-wheel-drive version of that model’s platform – and this should ensure it has plenty of appeal for enthusiasts.

Although it will be slightly bigger than the Mazda MX-5, the MG will be targeting the Japanese convertible, as it’s likely to carry a similar price tag. However, also in its sights are the likes of the Alfa Romeo Spider, Audi TT Roadster and Volkswagen Eos.

If it looks a little familiar, that’s because the new TF takes some of its styling inspiration from the MG SV supercar and X80 concept. Those models were both based on the Mangusta – a sports car from Italian maker Qvale, which MG Rover bought in 2001.

As you can see from our pictures, produced using insider information, the new TF updates that shape with a striking front end incorporating a deep-set four-piece radiator grille and quad headlamps. At the rear, the curvy tail completes the look.

Under the skin, the TF features a chassis based on a design that was created by MG Rover – one which would have underpinned a replacement for the 45/ZS, had the company not gone into receivership.

When Shanghai Automobile Corporation (SAIC) bought the rights to the 25 and 75, it also acquired projects such as the unfinished 45. It has since produced the Roewe 550 and the 75-based Roewe 750.

There has always been the desire within SAIC to build a replacement for the TF, but with rival Nanjing Automobile Corporation (NAC) owning the rights to the MG badge, there was never any chance of it wearing the famous octagon emblem – until the two Chinese giants joined forces.

Featuring a rear-wheel-drive platform developed in conjunction with British engineering expert Ricardo, plus MG Rover-based engines – including a 1.8-litre turbo and 2.5-litre V6 – the TF will deliver a great driving experience. And as SAIC-NAC are looking to form a UK Roewe dealer network in 2010, the stage is set for the TF’s comeback.

Since its launch in 1995, the MG TF – or MGF as it was then – has won a loyal following thanks to its neat looks, mid-engined layout and driver-pleasing handling. When MG was bought by NAC in 2005, the TF was one of the first cars the Chinese firm wanted to get back into production at Longbridge – and as soon as possible.

It revealed a mildly revised version in 2007 called the TF LE 500, which had a new bodykit. Since then, production has been delayed, first when bosses were concerned about quality and then when a key supplier pulled out.

However, it now seems that new (current) TFs will start rolling out of the plant within six months. Buyers looking forward to the roadster will have to wait for another couple of years, but it appears MG has a brighter future.

from Auto Express

[ad#google-horizontal-ad]

NAC MG announces launch date for new MG TF LE500!

NAC MF TF MG has announced that production of the TF LE500 sportscar will commence at their Longbridge plant in Birmingham at the beginning of August, with the first cars delivered to showrooms in September.

Chairman for NAC MG UK Ltd, Mr He, Xiao Qing, said; “I am delighted to be in a position to talk about a launch date for the TF LE500 following a process of planning, re-organisation, active quality improvements and parts optimisation that we recognise resulted in frustration for our stakeholders. We are now fully focussed on bringing our hard work to fruition.”

The new car is expected to appeal to a wide range of car buyers looking for the authentic sportscar driving experience, as well as existing small sportscar owners looking to upgrade, current owners and the large band of MG enthusiasts.

Gary Hagen, Director of Sales & Marketing continued, “The open top sportscar is an iconic image of British motoring and forms the basis of the MG marque’s long pedigree. The launch of the TF LE500 signals our determination to keep this class of car at the heart of the brand as we take it forward.”

With the launch of the new TF LE500, the company knows that it is also re-launching one of the best known and best loved brands in the world. Whilst production efforts at Longbridge are focussed on the LE500, designers at their SMTC facility in Leamington, Warwickshire are already planning exciting newMG models that will capture the essential qualities of the MG brand and extend the range into additional sectors.

The commitment planned by MG and the level of investment underwritten by SAIC will persuade doubters that the MG brand is being re-launched with the support to make it successful again. The fact is that in 2008, desirable and competitive British made sportscars will once again be rolling off a production line in Longbridge. A sight that many thought they might never see again.

– MG

SAIC and Nanjing Merge to form Mega Chinese Auto Group

Industry analysts widely agree that one of the principal factors preventing Chinese automakers from succeeding outside of China is the local industry’s fragmentation, with over 100 automakers vying for their slice of the proverbial pie. However, a merger announced Wednesday between two major Chinese automakers, Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corp (SAIC) and Nanjing Automotive Group, stands a stronger chance of succeeding in the international car market as a larger group.The merger, which has been long anticipated, involves SAIC paying $285.7 million for Nanjing. In return, Nanjing’s parent company acquires 4.9 percent of SAIC Motor Corp.

The products of SAIC’s joint ventures with GM and Volkswagen Group account for 14% of the domestic market in China, selling 1.25 million vehicles in the first ten months of 2007. Nanjing, meanwhile, sold less than 80,000 over the same period, making the acquisition a merger in the same sense as Mercedes had “merged” with Chrysler. Nanjing, however, owns MG Rover, whose plants in England SAIC hopes to use as a foothold into the European market.
[ad#google-horizontal-ad]

MG TF Re-Launch Delayed

Nanjing MGTF According to reports by the Birmingham Post, the much-vaunted re-launch of the MG TF Roadster will be put back until sometime in 2008. It has stated that as well as there being little likelihood of the MG 7-Series saloon reaching the UK until next year, but also, ‘Nanjing Automobile missed its end of the 2007 year target for the launch of its MG TF sports cars.’

NAC-MG was aiming for an April relaunch, to coincide with the parent company’s 60th anniversary, but following the Longbridge re-opening ceremony in May where company executives were talking about an ‘Autumn launch’, it now appears that TF will now go to the showrooms in the UK in 2008.

Final details are being worked out on pricing for the car, although reports in China suggest it could be around £20,000. Around 31 dealers have signed up so far to sell the car with more expected to follow. Meanwhile a marketing campaign is expected to start in early 2008 to alert MG enthusiasts and other potential purchasers to the relaunch of the car.

Eleanor de la Haye, spokeswoman for NAC MG, said: “The car will be released to dealers in February and deliveries will start in March..” According to the Birmingham Post, 20 cars are currently on test for altitude testing in Spain, hot weather testing in Australia, and cold weather testing in Finland.

Chinese Car Deal Raises Hopes for MG Revival

By Fang Yan from the International Herald Tribune

A deal struck this week puts a venerable British motoring brand in the hands of China’s top car maker, raising hopes that Shanghai Automotive Co might do for MG what Germany’s BMW did for the Mini.

Shanghai Auto on Wednesday agreed a $286 million dollar (143.4 million pound) deal to acquire the vehicle and core auto parts operations of Nanjing Auto, an eastern China manufacturer which surprised car enthusiasts in 2005 by snapping up the MG brand and some other assets after the collapse of the British firm, MG Rover.

With a stock market value of $24 billion, Shanghai Auto, backed by parent SAIC, has financial clout roughly equivalent to Italy’s Fiat or Hyundai of South Korea.

“Funding is obviously not a major concern now that the companies are joining forces,” said Chen Qiaoning, analyst at ABN AMRO TEDA Fund Management in Shanghai.

SAIC, which has joint ventures with General Motors and Volkswagen AG in China, already has a connection with the defunct MG Rover.

Last year it introduced the Roewe 750 to the Chinese market. The car is based on technology acquired from MG Rover and is priced to compete with Toyota’s locally-made Camry.

Nanjing Auto, for its part, announced a grand scheme to revive the MG marque when it rolled out its first MG sports cars and saloons, made at a plant in China, in April.

The distinctive MG badge dates back to around 1925 and is part of a rich history of British car manufacturing with a special connection to motor sport.

MG and other British motoring names including Rolls-Royce and Bentley, Jaguar, Aston Martin and Lotus all eventually needed to call upon foreign capital as car markets become more open and costs competition hit home.

Ford and GM of the United States and Japan’s Nissan have big production sites in Britain, but a slew of British marques are in foreign hands.

India’s Tata Motor is set to buy Jaguar from Ford . Volkswagen owns Bentley, BMW owns Rolls-Royce while Aston Martin is owned by a consortium including Kuwait’s Investment Dar . Lotus belongs to Malaysia’s Proton.

Nanjing Auto, which paid 53 million pounds for MG, has plans to return the brand to international prominence and make it fashionable among China’s emerging middle class.

Earlier this year, Nanjing Auto unveiled its first British-built MG TF sports cars at the Longbridge assembly plant, ending a two-year production halt there.

VENERABLE MARQUE

The British production was intended to revive the marque internationally through sales in Europe and British Commonwealth countries, where the MG brand remains a household name.

But financing MG’s revival was clearly an issue for Nanjing Auto.

Zhang Xin, general manager of the Nanjing Auto subsidiary making the cars, said at the time that the subsidiary was seeking outside investors and was willing to sell as much as 50 percent of itself to help fund the project.

A Nanjing Auto executive, who declined to be named, told Reuters on Thursday that it had sold 3,000 MG 7 model cars in China since August — not a large amount for a new model. Overseas sales have not begun, he said.

There is one potential legal cloud on the horizon for the partners as the administrator to a failed Dutch unit of MG claims the European brand rights outside Britain. Wouter Verel at lawyers AKD was not available for comment on Thursday.

SAIC’s ventures with General Motors and Volkswagen AG are China’s biggest car sellers. The SAIC group sold 1.25 million vehicles in the first 10 months of 2007, dwarfing Nanjing Auto’s sales of 79,196 vehicles, industry data shows.

Apart from its majority stake in South Korea’s Ssangyong Motor , SAIC does not have major car sales overseas.

SAIC Motor president Chen Hong told reporters on Wednesday that the Longbridge facility in Britain would serve as a platform for his firm to tap foreign markets with the MG brand.

Inside China, the outlook for the MG brand is complicated by the fact that SAIC has been promoting the Roewe, which uses technology similar to the MG 7 sedan series technology bought by Nanjing Auto.

But analysts believe SAIC may continue selling both Roewe and MG models by aiming at different market segments. MG cars in China have so far been priced slightly cheaper than Roewe cars.

“The next thing we will be focusing on is to clarify the market position of the Roewe and the MG, and differentiate the brands accordingly. That is vital for good sales,” said Liu Ningsheng, spokesman at Nanjing Auto.

While this issue may be resolved, the difficulties faced by the MG brand in the past show relaunching it may not be quick or easy, noted Chen at ABN AMRO TEDA Fund Management.

“They should buckle up and be well prepared for the bumpy road ahead,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Alexandra Hudson in Amsterdam and David Cutler in London; Editing by Marcel Michelson and Andrew Callus)

Nanjing MG has launched the MG 7 Luxury Sedan

Chinese automaker Nanjing MG has formally launched its new MG 7 luxury sedan in the home market, priced from around $25,500

from Edmunds Inside Line

The MG 7 competes head to head with the Roewe 750 sedan built by rival — and suitor — Shanghai Auto. Both models are based on the original and now-defunct Rover 75 sedan; Shanghai bought the blueprints and Nanjing bought the tooling.

New MGs made in China The central government has been trying to broker a marriage between the two state-owned companies, but so far both sides seem to be resisting a forced merger.

In bringing the MG 7 to market, Nanjing observes that the design “retains the character” of the Rover 75’s stablemate, the old MG ZT sedan. The latest edition, however, is built in China, rather than England.

In the Chinese market, Nanjing is offering three versions of the MG 7, plus a flagship MG 7L. The base car is fitted with a 160-horsepower turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, adapted by Lotus Engineering. The range-topping MG 7L has a 177-hp 2.5-liter V6 and features a modest 0.8-inch stretch over the standard edition, with more rear legroom.

The MG 7L tops out at $45,000, making it one of the most expensive domestic models from a Chinese automaker.

What this means to you: Americans will see the MG TF roadster long before the Chinese send this big sedan over.

MG Rover may be reunited in China

Rival firms Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation and Nanjing Automotive Company – the two firms that bought the remains of MG Rover – could be on course to merge, and bring back together the constituent parts of the old British car-maker that were seperated two years ago.

The firms have been in talks since before June. They claim that they are only considering a joint venture, but other sources maintain that a buyout of the smaller Nanjing Automotive by SAIC is more likely, thereby amalgamating the remains of MG Rover into one company.

Nanjing bought rights to the MG models in 2006 following MG Rover’s collapse, and sold the first MG (a re-badged ZT) last week.

SAIC bought the Rover models, but failed to buy rights to the Rover name. The result is the Roewe 75 – a name devised by SAIC for the re-worked Rover 75s.

Nanjing Automotive has much better production facilities than the bigger Shanghai company. It owns a factory capable of producing 200,000 vehicles a year – significantly more than SAIC’s ageing Yizheng factory.

This would be a huge incentive for Shanghai Automotive to buy its smaller rival, as it would allow for increased production of the Roewe 75. Owning its most significant competitor would also give it a stranglehold on the market.

Roewe is due to arrive in the UK in 2009 with the stretched 75, the Roewe 750. Nanjing Automotive maintains that it will launch the new TF roadster in the UK before the end of 2007.