By 17 February 2011 24 Comments Read More →

MG’s Media Briefing : New ideas, new metal and a new beginning

Words: Adam Sloman Photographs: Simon Davies/Pegasus Photographics  

After seemingly endless delays, it appears MG is finally back, with firm intentions to stay.  

A fresh look for a famous old name...

Hosted by Sales and Marketing Director Guy Jones, the day combined an outline of MG Motor UK’s strategy for the marque’s return to the UK market with a whistle-stop tour of the newly streamlined Longbridge – now rechristened MG Birmingham.  

Once ushered through to the Visitor Centre, we were shown an example of the ‘brand wall’ which will feature in all MG dealerships. This wall encompassed MG’s of the past (such as the B), present (the new 6) and future (in this instance, the ZERO Concept). It’s a nice touch that shows the brand’s new stewards are keen to embrace the heritage of the marque.  

The new logo on its red background (chosen to evoke passion and sportiness) breaks with the previous identity so closely linked with the MG Rover era. It’s a more simplified logo, reminiscent of the chrome badges used to iconic effect on the likes of the MGA and MGB.  

Attention soon turned to a covered car, awaiting its first UK showing, the MG6 saloon. Unveiled by MG Global Design Director, Tony Williams-Kenny, the 6 Saloon is a neat evolution of the Roewe 550.  

The well-executed MG6 Saloon meets the UK media...

Like the ZS Saloon before it, the 6 Saloon is arguably better balanced than its Fastback brother. After the unveiling, Williams-Kenny explained the thinking behind the car. “The MG6 saloon is unique –  in terms of its size within the market, it has no true opposition, which we feel makes it unique. With warm, flowing forms it offers a strong British feel, something very important to any MG.”  

The Saloon’s launch is planned for June, a date that has been brought forward after positive customer clinics.  That’s reaction which has proved something of a surprise to Guy Jones and his Sales and Marketing team. The booted 6 is expected to be priced at a slight premium over the Fastback, given that the majority of the Saloon’s potential customers expect higher levels of equipment, with the sales team expecting the top-of-the range model to account for most Saloon sales. Power will come from the same 1.8 litre, turbo-charged petrol as found in the Fastback.  

With the new metal unveiled, we were ushered across to the factory floor to take a look at where the UK’s MG6s will be assembled. This offered a unique opportunity since it’s a rare thing to see an empty factory. However, MG were keen to point out this won’t be the case for long, with the start of the production programme just weeks away.  

Quiet today, busy tomorrow...

The cars will arrive in an 80% built form from the factory in Lingan, China. Packed into a specially developed crate, the 6 is shipped two to a crate, taking around six weeks to make it from China to the UK. Once in Birmingham, they are unpacked in what was described as a ‘semi-automatic’ process before entering the factory using the former Rover 75/MG ZT line.  

The exhaust, engine, gearbox and front suspension are all fitted here in the UK, with the electrical testing also happening at MG Birmingham, while the 6’s wheels and tyres are locally-sourced.  

Craig Osman, MG Motor Manufacturing Manager

Craig Osman, Manufacturing Manager at MG, explained “We currently have 40 people here dedicated to production, around 95% of whom are former MG Rover employees.” He then went onto describe the mood amongst his staff as excited and really positive, before adding “It’s a great car, we want it to be a success and really hope it leads to a new sports car.”  

With the MG6 launch scheduled for mid-March it seems that MG really is back, the sense of optimism at the former Longbridge plant was tangible, the targets are realistic and the cars seem right.  

The proof, though, is in the driving and, if MG can deliver on this crucial factor, then the MG6 deserves to succeed. However, convincing the often sceptical British public may prove the sternest test for the new MG yet.  

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24 Comments on "MG’s Media Briefing : New ideas, new metal and a new beginning"

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  1. MG: Back for good? | 17 February 2011
  1. Ianto says:

    A clinically clean production line… for how long I wonder?

  2. Simon Woodward says:

    The General Assembly Hall will look a whole lot better filled up with MGs and workers beavering away – better late than never. I wish them all the best I hope it goes to plan because we could do with the work in that part of Birmingham.

    Just one cynical comment meant as a joke before the over sensitive get their knickers in a twist: have they made room for the beds for the night shift?!

  3. Paul Taylor Paul T says:

    @Simon Woodward
    I believe it’s the 20 minute ‘Power Nap’ cubicles that are being shipped in… 🙂

  4. Simon Woodward says:

    @Paul T
    I just wondering who’s going to be the first bloke to nick an MG6 by smuggling bits of it out in his lunch box!

  5. Mike Humble Mike Humble says:

    ANY form of manufacturing in B31 is better than another pro-Logis Industrial Estate or, worse still, a super-sized ASDA.

    Best wishes to all concerned with MG.

  6. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    Great coverage Clive, Steven and Adam. Reading these articles reminded me of reading the series of launch articles featured in CAR Magazine during the 1980s – Ford Sierra, Rover 800 etc.

  7. Chris Chapman says:

    FWIW, a lot of manufacturers’ websites in China show photos of shiny factories strangely devoid of any lineside components…

  8. KenS Ken Strachan says:

    @Simon Woodward
    He’d need to have a rather large lunchbox to put a part-assembled car from China into it.

    Remember the Johnny Cash song, “One piece at a time” – it took the guy several years to get enough parts out – so it was a 55/56/57/58/59 model…

  9. Mike Goy says:

    Surely this is good news? After almost a century of continuous calamity from Austin/BMC/BL/ARG/MGR, this is a positive development at last. Why so much cynicism?

  10. Fevsisere says:

    Wow, the wheels and tyres will be sourced locally. I can’t wait…

  11. Coke Star says:

    Welcome back, MG! The fact that the tyres and wheels are being produced locally is a small, but good beginning for the whole British industry.

  12. Simon Woodward says:

    @Ken Strachan
    There was a story my Uncle, a Longbridge worker, told me when I was a kid about the guy who nicked enough Mini bits to make an almost complete car from spares. I am not sure if it’s true or how, but stranger things have happened. Johnny Cash is a legend by the way.

  13. Simon Woodward says:

    @Mike Humble
    It would be a huge ASDA! I was on the Lickey Hills a few months ago with my kids looking down on Longbridge and it’s easy to forget how big the site is – it’s really massive. What’s happening to the engine site up the road?

  14. Fevsisere says:

    @Coke Star
    It’s a massive insult. The British car industry is finished – holding on to the past because some Chinese company has put up a few new signs and is going to make a new car in Britain where we just stick a badge on the boot is a joke. MG died in 2005 along with Rover and that is where it should have stayed.

  15. Paul Taylor Paul T says:

    The British car industry extends a good bit beyond Longbridge…

    I know the MG marque is over 80 years old, but this effectively a new start-up by an overseas car manufacturer which happens to own the rights to the badge.

    Look back at other threads – this type of set-up is more or less exactly how Nissan started out in Washington. They became successful and the factory expanded.

    The fact that this is Longbridge and the car is badged as an MG does not change this scenario – they cannot just pick up the baton from where MGR left off and expect everything to revert to normal.

    You are entitled to believe that MG died in 2005 and that’s fair enough but don’t think everyone else has to follow suit.

  16. DRose says:

    I hope MG didn’t die in 2005. My 20+ years may have, but there are many ex-MGR workers still there at Longbridge and I wish them all the best. Shame they’re only looking to sell 2000 cars in the first year. The car looks great – it’s a shame MGR didn’t have the finance to produce it.

  17. Ianto says:

    Unlike Rover, MG did not die. The brand is alive and well in China and, although it is being manufactured in a different country, the DNA is still intact.

  18. Adam Sloman says:

    It’s a lot more than a badge being stuck on the boot. There’s an impressive sense of optimism at the factory and the staff are really excited by the MG6 and the MGs that will follow it. I say that, at the very least, they deserve is a fair crack of the whip.

  19. Simon Woodward says:

    @Adam Sloman
    I like your positive attitude – it maybe little acorns now but, who knows, it could be a huge success.

    Yes, there will be the die hards who say “it will never be a proper MG” but, if it provides real jobs for real workers like MINI at Cowley, then surely that’s a good thing.

    What’s the alternative?

    We need jobs in that part of the West Midlands and, so far, I have not seen any evidence of a solution from either this Government or the previous one.

    I believe that, if MG gets up to the speed of, say, Nissan in Washington, then that would mean 4000 workers, paying taxes and buying from the local economy.

    How could that be a bad thing or is it the fact that “Johnny Foreigner” now owns an old iconic British motoring brand?

    Simply put, if you don’t want a MG6 don’t buy one but, if you want the car and MG Motor UK to fail and want further mass unemployment, then shame on you.

    I applaud all the positive people on this site – they clearly have pulse!

  20. Paul Taylor Paul T says:

    @Simon Woodward
    Well said!

    I have already said this in another thread on here but this is effectively a new start-up business for SAIC Motor in the UK market. The fact the car is being assembled at Longbridge and has an MG badge does not alter this scenario. This is, as others have said, how Nissan started at Washington and see where that factory is now.

    I like the 6 – especially so after Keith Harris posted the pic of the grey one on their Facebook page – and it is now a serious consideration for me. It may well be 2012, when the model has ‘bedded in’ and any niggles addressed, and it may be an ex-Demonstrator (depending on price and my financial position at that time!), but I see myself owning one in the not too distant future.

    Yes, as you say, Simon, it’s a case of “little acorns” but let’s all now try to be positive and not look for nit-picking faults so we can hit them over the head with a big stick.

    There are plenty of other more appropriate sites and forums folk can join if they are not keen on MG succeeding and are mired in the past.

  21. Adam Sloman says:

    @Simon Woodward
    Thank you, Simon.

    I hail from the West Midlands (although an exile in the West Country today) and reckon that Longbridge, sorry(!), MG Birmingham, could offer much needed employment to the area. After all, as mentioned above, Nissan started in a similar way and look at that factory today!

    I must admit to having little time for cynicism. I feel that the MG6 and MG Motor deserve a fair shout – if the products are poor we will be quick to tell them and if they’re good they deserve praise!

    Roll on the launch date!

  22. Ianto says:

    MG Motor’s going to be huge!

  23. T Moore says:

    Blimey Craig Osman has come on leaps and bounds,fitting the odd air con and sleeping obviously had it’s rewards.

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