MG UK : The next phase of the New Journey?
AMOnline, the online version of Automotive Industry newspaper AM (formerly Automotive Management), yesterday ran a story claiming that ‘MG and its Dealer Network seem confused about when future product is likely to arrive in UK showrooms’ and implying that the TF LE500 was a ‘sellout.’
However, when speaking to AROnline yesterday, Eleanor De La Haye, MG Motor UK Limited’s Corporate Communications Manager, confirmed that production of the TF 135 will commence on Monday and that both the standard TF 135 and the 85th Anniversary edition are to be unveiled during the MG UK-sponsored Royal Windsor MG Heritage Festival on the 24th and 25th April, 2009. The event will include a Dealer Conference and details of the price and specification of the two models should be released to the media by MG UK shortly thereafter.
The MG Dealer Prinicpals attending next week’s event will, no doubt, be mindful of the fact that, according to the SMMT’s New Car Registration data, just 184 of the 500 TF LE500s built at Longbridge last year had been registered by the end of March and that a total of 316 units are still to be retailed. A quick check revealed that there are also around 18 registered ex-Demonstrator TF LE500s being advertised on Auto Trader at the moment.
AROnline has recently discussed this situation with a number of MG Dealers and the consensus appears to be that:-
1) the TF LE500’s relatively slow take off can be attributed to the fact that the car was launched last autumn rather than early last summer and the economic downturn over the winter,
2) the standard TF 135 should start at £13,995 otr as that would, in turn, help to accelerate sales of the remaining higher specification TF LE500s – several of our contacts in the Dealer Network reckoned that those TF LE500s should now be reduced to £14,995 otr but others thought that a de facto £15,995 otr still represented pretty good value,
3) a national MG UK-led (as opposed to a local Dealer-led) marketing campaign to coincide with the launch of the standard TF 135 would not only increase the wider British public’s awareness of the MG brand but should also generate a significant increase in showroom footfall – more than one of the MG Dealers we spoke to remarked that the majority of the British public still did not realise that British-built MGs were back – and
4) the widely anticipated debut of the MG6 Concept at Auto Shanghai next week should ideally be followed by a phased but sustained media campaign disclosing SAIC Motor’s plans for the MG marque and the future of Longbridge in order to maintain the public’s interest in the brand’s relaunch.
SAIC Motor has, of course, already demonstrated a major commitment to Longbridge with SMTC UK’s recent £2.7m move there from Leamington Spa but MG Dealers and enthusiasts alike are still hoping and waiting for confirmation that the production version of the MG6 Concept will definitely be built at the facility. However, another informed and reliable source with knowledge of the current position on that reckons that the final decision should be made ‘within the next couple of months.’
AROnline, in the meantime, has a man on the ground in Shanghai so we should have all the MG and Roewe-related news from Auto Shanghai online early next week…