Tag Archives: SAIC MG

MGs Return: How the Chinese Will Relaunch MG in 2011

By Tim Pollard of Motor Industry

MG3 Super Mini

MG today rebranded ahead of its 2011 relaunch. The car maker, which collapsed in 2005, was snapped up by China’s biggest car maker SAIC and has been biding time while its new masters planned how to revive this famous British marque. Now the new strategy is becoming clearer.

MG is relaunching in the UK first – in summer 2011 with the arrival of the 6 hatchback and saloon. It’s a half-sized family car straddling the C- and D-segments, a bit like Skoda’s Octavia, and will be priced aggressively.

The company says the MG 6 will cost from £17,000-£20,000 when first deliveries happen in April 2011. Only petrol engines will be available at launch; the new 1.9-litre turbodiesel lands in summer 2012, coinciding with the Continental relaunch.

The MG 3 is the new supermini from China. It is due to arrive in late 2012 and at 4m long, it echoes the footprint of a traditional European mini such as the Renault Clio.

MG’s initial launch plan is for those three vehicles: a pair of 6 bodystyles and the 3 five-door supermini. But Guy Jones, sales and marketing director of MG Motor UK, told CAR that two further models were under evaluation.

‘There are two unconfirmed all-new products we’re looking at,’ he said. ‘We do have crossovers and SUVs in the plan, but we have not committed to bringing them to Europe yet.

‘Once the three launch vehicles are established and we have a volume base then we will begin to look at niche products. It would obviously be great to have a sports car wearing the MG badge again.’

MG has become a niche player in the UK since the collapse of MG Rover in 2005. It has sold no more than 374 TF roadsters per year since 2008 and the dealer network has all but dried up.

However, Jones said there were 39 showrooms in the UK and the company was busy filling 45 open points in its network. All will wear the new MG octagon, unveiled today, with its red background and simpler form.

The new MG company plans to design and engineer its new model range in the UK at the Longbridge site. Although a shadow of its former might, the Birmingham facility still has 60 acres and SAIC has invested £45m in setting up a design studio, engineering centre and preparing the mothballed factory.

The MG 6 saloon and fastback are shipped from China 80% pre-built, are trucked from Felixstowe and the final assembly happens in the Longbridge factory, where the engine and transmission are married to the body, suspension is added and final electrical systems fitted.

It’s easy to dismiss the MG revival as pie-in-the-sky. The world doesn’t need another niche player and competition is fierce with the Japanese and Koreans making life difficult for the established players.

But the new MG is a very different operator from the old MG Rover. Where that company had grand ambitions, SAIC is adopting a softly-softly approach. It only wants to build 2000 cars in its first 12 months.

The thing is, would you bet against SAIC – China’s biggest player – succeeding in the long run? The 6 we sat in today felt very modern, very together, and is bristling with kit. No, it’s not a stand-out design, but early test drives suggest it’s a good drive and the rate at which the Chinese progress industrially suggest MG could become a force to be reckoned with. It’ll take time but it’d be a brave man who bet against this succeeding in the long run.

New MG Models for China and Europe

SAIC MG
SAIC MG

Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC) is developing new MG models for China and Europe on the platform of its Roewe 550 compact car, say sources at the company.

SAIC will launch a new MG car in China at the end of this year, says a source with SAIC in China who is familiar with the situation.

The five-door hatchback MG6 will have a 1.6-liter gasoline engine and offer manual as well as automatic transmission versions.

It will share its platform with SAIC’s Roewe 550 compact sedan, says the source.

The car will be first sold in China, but will be made available in Europe in the future, he adds.

According to Eleanor de la Haye, spokesperson for MG Motor Co. in Britain, in addition to the new five-door MG car, SAIC is developing another model for Europe.

Says de la Haye: “We are currently developing a four-door model and a five door model based on the Roewe 550 platform that will be sold in U.K. and Ireland.”

She declines to provide more details on the two models. But she adds these cars may be sold in other European markets as well.

MG Motor is now a subsidiary of SAIC.

Currently only three MG cars — the MG7 four-door sedan, the MGTF roadster and the MG3SW hatchback, are built and sold in China.

In Britain, MG Motor Co. only sells the MG TF. In China, SAIC only sold 129 MG TF cars in 2008.

It also sold 4,715 units of the MG3 SW small car and 4,357 units of the MG7 sedan last year, according to JATO Dynamics.

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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.
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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.

2008 MG3

MG under the guidance of China’s Nanjing has developed a new hatchback model based on the original Rover 25 that was sold up until 2005. When MG and Rover were split, Nanjing Auto managed to scoop up the tooling for the car and as evidenced by these latest spy shots a new MG3 has already begun production.
Set for launch next year, the new MG3 is likely to be manufactured in China as there are no plans to expand the Longbridge site in the UK yet. According to some reports the car could also revive the original Austin label, which will be used to market a range of affordable models from Nanjing.
Powering the car will be a series of four-cylinder petrol engines ranging in displacement from 1.1 to 1.8L. A 2.0L diesel engine was also offered with the original Rover hatch but there’s no world on whether Nanjing will pick up the oil-burner.

MG TF Roadster Production at Longbridge

The Longbridge car plant in Birmingham was reborn two years after the collapse of MG Rover.

Although MG’s new Chinese owners hailed the moment as the restart of British car production at Longbridge, the new set-up is very different to the old factory.

At its height, Longbridge was one of the biggest car plants in the world, employing more than 21,000 workers.

The new MG production line is staffed by only 130 people – although bosses say this will rise to about 250.

MG TF sports car parts will be shipped from China and assembled at Longbridge for the UK market.

Despite this, the return of car production to the site augurs well for the future. It also fulfils a promise made when the Nanjing Automobile Company (NAC) bought the assets of MG Rover for £53m in July 2005.

At that time there was widespread scepticism at the Chinese firm’s promise to restart production in the UK, especially as NAC has already built an 800,000sq metre factory in China.

At yesterday’s champagne launch to celebrate the rebirth of Longbridge, NAC chief executive officer Yu Jian Wei described the West Midlands factory as having “an irreplaceable role in the MG project”.

If sales of the TF sports car go well, the plant could eventually employ 4,500 people and make 200,000 cars a year.

He said: “The UK is home to MG and it has a profound affection for MG. MG is the pride of the British people. It has a glorious past.

“We are the inheritors of this brand and we will continue to push forward our internationalisation strategy and continue to write new chapters for MG.

“Longbridge has an irreplaceable role in the MG project. It is in the front line of our internationalisation stra-tegy. This is the rebirth of MG.”

The first phase of the Longbridge plan envisages production of 15,000 cars a year – a mixture of the TF sports car and a redeveloped MG ZT saloon. Sales of the TF are due to begin this autumn.

Three pre-production TFs were driven off the line as part of the ceremony, which also included a cavalcade of MG cars.

Mr Wei said NAC was working on a number of new MG models, which would be produced at the Longbridge site, including a hard-top TF.

He added: “We want to do everything we can to develop the MG brand and make sure there will be good cars so there will be more people buying good cars and more employment opportunities.”

Longbridge will also carry out design work for future MG cars using many of the technical staff who lost their jobs when MG Rover closed.

MG Reborn in China

The entrance to the Nanjing plant.

THIS is the stunning new frontage of the Chinese factory which will soon be making MG cars once produced in Longbridge.

The giant MG logo is being built outside Nanjing Automobile’s new factory in the Pukou area of Nanjing.

But while the factory is new, a lot of its equipment is from Birmingham.

Like a modern-day version of the reconstruction of London Bridge in America, thousands of containers of equipment were brought from the silent plant at Longbridge to Nanjing.

Machinery bearing the names of Midland companies like Alfred Herbert from Coventry and Henry Filters from Wolverhampton, were brought over during the last two years as 5,000 containers were delivered to the factory, which will open shortly and recommence production of MG cars.

Almost two years on from the collapse of MG Rover, Longbridge’s machines will soon be active again – on the other side of the world.

The new MG assembly line in Nanjing.

Paul Stowe, Quality Director of Nanjing Automobile Corporation, said: “There’s a great story that even the toilets were taken from Longbridge and set up here, but I haven’t seen any here yet.”

Paul, who once worked at the former MG Rover plant in Birmingham, admitted to often feeling emotional.

“I would be lying if I said I never shed a tear when I walked around here. It was quite strange to find it was a Chinese company that was prepared to make the investment in MG, which is the most British of companies.

“But I am extremely happy someone has rescued the brand and its name. Without the Chinese it would probably have disappeared forever.

“They could have been accused of stealing the brand, but they have invested in its heritage and understanding it.”

The whole construction has been an impressive feat. The first foundation stones were laid in March 2006, and from a greenfield site an 800,000 sq mtr factory has been established.

The plant will eventually employ 4,500 people and produce up to 200,000 cars per year. Throughout the factory, posters and banners abound, proclaiming the company’s objectives.

One simply says: “MG: iconic British car worth waiting. (excerpt from the club magazine, the Octagon)

by Gray Marks of the Birmingham, U.K. Mail

The entrance to the Nanjing plant.

THIS is the stunning new frontage of the Chinese factory which will soon be making MG cars once produced in Longbridge.

The giant MG logo is being built outside Nanjing Automobile’s new factory in the Pukou area of Nanjing.

But while the factory is new, a lot of its equipment is from Birmingham.

Like a modern-day version of the reconstruction of London Bridge in America, thousands of containers of equipment were brought from the silent plant at Longbridge to Nanjing.

Machinery bearing the names of Midland companies like Alfred Herbert from Coventry and Henry Filters from Wolverhampton, were brought over during the last two years as 5,000 containers were delivered to the factory, which will open shortly and recommence production of MG cars.

Almost two years on from the collapse of MG Rover, Longbridge’s machines will soon be active again – on the other side of the world.

The new MG assembly line in Nanjing.

Paul Stowe, Quality Director of Nanjing Automobile Corporation, said: “There’s a great story that even the toilets were taken from Longbridge and set up here, but I haven’t seen any here yet.”

Paul, who once worked at the former MG Rover plant in Birmingham, admitted to often feeling emotional.

“I would be lying if I said I never shed a tear when I walked around here. It was quite strange to find it was a Chinese company that was prepared to make the investment in MG, which is the most British of companies.

“But I am extremely happy someone has rescued the brand and its name. Without the Chinese it would probably have disappeared forever.

“They could have been accused of stealing the brand, but they have invested in its heritage and understanding it.”

The whole construction has been an impressive feat. The first foundation stones were laid in March 2006, and from a greenfield site an 800,000 sq mtr factory has been established.

The plant will eventually employ 4,500 people and produce up to 200,000 cars per year. Throughout the factory, posters and banners abound, proclaiming the company’s objectives.

One simply says: “MG: iconic British car worth waiting. (excerpt from the club magazine, the Octagon)

by Gray Marks of the Birmingham, U.K. Mail