MG6 : Production gets underway at Longbridge today

Words: Keith Adams Photographs: Mark Gibson/Slant 4 Marketing

MG6 production underway at Longbridge

MG6 production underway at Longbridge

Production of the MG6 is now underway at MG Motor UK Limited’s Birmingham factory in Longbridge, almost six years to the day since the Administrators were called in at MG Rover Group Limited.

This represents an important new phase in MG Motor UK’s development – since SAIC Motor Corporation Limited took control of the company in 2008, a total of only 906 MG TFs have been built in a series of batches. The MG6’s final assembly process and the number of cars being produced – which, according to Sales and Marketing Director, Guy Jones, will be between 2000 and 3000 per annum for the moment – represents an exciting new start for the factory.

SAIC Motor’s decision to resume MG production in the UK has never been in doubt since 2008, although it didn’t look that way before the company’s merger with former MG owners, Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corporation (NAC). However, the good news is that this re-commencement of volume production will keep some 400 people in employment. It’s still a modest investment, though, and a demonstration of SAIC Motor’s commitment to under-promise and over-deliver – the assembly process remains very much a CKD operation with cars being built and finished here from large Chinese-built sub-assemblies.

AROnline has already covered the MG6’s UK introduction in great depth and, with a growing Dealer Network, the car should meet these modest targets -especially given the keen initial pricing of the entry-level models, excellent dynamics and overall style. Guy Jones told us at the car’s launch, ‘we’re building MG slowly, and the petrol-only line-up fits our plans. By the time we have additional capacity, the diesel will be online.’

Today marks a significant and, hopefully, historic step forward for the MG marque and MG Motor UK. However, with the cars now rolling off the line in the Longbridge facilty, the company must now press forward with its future model plans – and decide precisely what part MG Birmingham will play in those.

Keith Adams

About the Author:

AROnlineholic between 2001 and 2014 - editor of Classic Car Weekly, and all round car nut...

44 Comments on "MG6 : Production gets underway at Longbridge today"

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  1. AutoGee.com | April 19, 2011
  1. Mark Falconer says:

    Great news!! I would love to have an MG6 but am not so keen on a petrol engine given the way fuel prices are rising at the moment. The MPG figure doesn’t look that great either.

    Hopefully, MG Motor UK can come up with a more efficient engine with better fuel consumption figures and then maybe – if the wife lets me!!!

  2. Keith Adams Keith Adams says:

    @Mark Falconer
    Diesels have been confirmed for 2012.

    Regards,
    Keith

  3. John says:

    Well, at least 400 jobs have been created, but I still think the new MG brand will be a dramatic failure in the UK. I also reckon that the MG6 looks awful.

  4. Evans says:

    Well done MG! I wish them all the luck.

  5. Mikey C says:

    I know it’s good to start low and build up, but 2-3000 a year? Don’t Aston Martin produce similar numbers a year? That’s not what I call volume production and it’s hardly enough to get Dealers interested.

  6. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    Yes, good luck MG – from small acorns, large scale manufacturers can grow. The strategy of starting with small numbers and growing from there should work, so long as the quality of the product is good.

  7. Glenn Aylett says:

    Remember the Nissan plant in Sunderland started with 500 workers assembling Bluebirds, but now employs over 4000 and produces 200,000 cars a year. I’m sure MG can grow in this fashion as the product, like the Nissan Bluebird 25 years ago, is competitively priced, well equipped and should be reliable.

  8. Simon Woodward says:

    I reckon this is going to be a big success – the MG6 looks smart and, from what I have read so far, those who have had the opportunity to drive the car have found very little very little to criticise.

    The MG6 is designed and engineered here in Britain, too. OK, so far it’s only built in kit form but that’s a start and a good one at that. 400 jobs today is better than 400 unemployed and I don’t think it will be too long before that figure grows.

  9. James Riley James says:

    I like it and I want one – if the diesel was out now, I’d be ordering one for my next company car in June. Shame…

  10. Mohawk-the-Engine says:

    Had a ’57 hardtop. Hard little barstid to keep on th’ road, but I loved that little monster. Ran broke in grad school and had to give it up. Would love to have this one.

  11. Chris C says:

    Anyone know what the current sales figures are i.e. confirmed customer orders?

  12. Oliver says:

    Luck is what they would need! It will not be so easy to sell old-fashioned cars with not very fuel efficient engines these days!

    A diesel-engined car would be the first step forward but, today, you should have a hybrid in your programme and not only a nice history!

  13. Peterover says:

    Good to see the good old British trait of seeing the worst in everything is alive and well…

    Longbridge is designing, engineering and now producing new cars. The project is properly funded and supported with a clear commitment to a viable business plan – possibly for the first time in decades.

    The MG6 Saloon, a diesel and hybrids are all on the way too…

  14. Dolomite Fan says:

    There is definitely a confidence about the place and actually, at this stage, I wouldn’t be too worried about the diesel.

    Just think if you want a diesel car in this sector right now it’s going to cost you £20k with toys. You can have a top spec MG6 with all the toys for at least £2k less. That buys a lot of fuel…

    I’d agree that, if MG Motor UK was after volume and fleet sales, then diesel would be an issue but they’re not really. Two to three thousand cars this first year should be achievable and will give them time to refine their processes and not run before they walk.

    However, when 2012 comes along you’ll have diesels and maybe even a smaller car. Building a base takes time – look, for example, at Kia. The difficult thing will be pursuading Joe Public that this is a brand to trust and which offers a real alternative to the competition.

    I’m interested to see where MG feel this car is pitched, who are the competitors, who is the target audience etc.

    I really do wish them all the very best though. No matter what your views on car or company you cannot disagree with the offer of meaningful employment to those at the factory.

  15. Simon Woodward says:

    Peterover :Good to see the good old British trait of seeing the worst in everything is alive and well…

    Longbridge is designing, engineering and now producing new cars. The project is properly funded and supported with a clear commitment to a viable business plan – possibly for the first time in decades.

    The MG6 Saloon, a diesel and hybrids are all on the way too…

    WELL SAID!

  16. Mega Liverpool says:

    It’s funny, if you think of all the names and company logos we had over the last 40 years:-

    BMC
    British Leyland
    BL
    Austin Morris
    Rover

    and then think of all brands which which we have lost:
    Austin
    Morris
    Standard
    Triumph
    Rover

    we have, in the end, been left with the diamond: MG :)

  17. Paul Taylor Paul T says:

    I thought all the press coverage today was excellent and BBC News certainly seemed to be promoting a reborn Longbridge, albeit on a smaller scale.

    There definitely seemed to be a bit of excitement and optimism about the place. I suppose we have been spoilt having seen this story drawn out for a couple of years and known about the build-up, whereas Jo(e) Public is probably getting his or her first whiff that Longbridge is producing cars again.

    They won’t have had their opinions influenced by the negative comments as they won’t read these blogs, so that can only be a good thing!

    Simon Woodward :

    Peterover :
    Good to see the good old British trait of seeing the worst in everything is alive and well…

    Longbridge is designing, engineering and now producing new cars. The project is properly funded and supported with a clear commitment to a viable business plan – possibly for the first time in decades.

    The MG6 Saloon, a diesel and hybrids are all on the way too…

    WELL SAID!

    +1 here

  18. Ayd says:

    Brilliant news.

  19. David 3500 says:

    I am personally not in love with the MG brand, so am unlikely to buy an MG6.

    Having said that, I genuinely wish MG Motor UK Limited and its employees all the best with this venture. With a fresh new company and a new product for European markets now utilising the site, Longbridge will hopefully get to build a higher volume of cars and additional ranges in the long term.

    This venture has also created 400 new jobs in the British manufacturing sector, which is something anyone with a passion for British marques should be really pleased about.

    Good luck to everyone at Longbridge.

  20. Marty B says:

    @Keith Adams
    Too late is that Keith. Doomed… I give Longbridge 18 months! Seriously, the diesel needed to be there from day one, but this company has dithered about from crisis to crisis.

    No Dealer Network, high CO2, high prices for what the cars are and the warranty claims that will flow in… MG is a dead brand. They would have done better calling it a Roewe.

  21. Yer ever luvin' Uncle Bert says:

    Everything is made in China these days but the MG6 is built in Britain even if the parts are sourced from China. The MG6 looks good and it deserves to be a success. I am sure it will be.

  22. Ian says:

    I’ll buy one of these as soon as I can.

    We are so far away from the dark days and nights of 2005 and 2006.

    What is this new MG all about? Seat perhaps?

    Anyway, as for giving Longbridge 18 months, is someone going to come along and remove it? It is actually the name of a Birmingham suburb, so I fully expect it to be there in 18 months and beyond.

    MG, a dead brand? We’ll have to wait and see about the UK but, internationally, based in China and with the potential for growth there, MG is going to run and run. (Petrol, diesel, hybrid et al).

  23. Paul Taylor Paul T says:

    I guess that only time will tell whether Longbridge produces cars in small or large volumes.

    However, the fact that the Design and Engineering teams for SAIC Motor’s MG models are based at Longbridge means there will be a presence there for some years to come.

    SAIC Motor has invested a fair whack of cash and a lot of faith in UK skills and is not going to abandon that on a whim. I think the octagon is going to be outside the gate in Lowhill Lane for a while yet…

  24. Ross A says:

    @Paul T
    Hmm, yes, and the other thing is that they still need a strong European presence to be taken seriously. This doesn’t come online until 2012, of course, but this modest production level is there to get everything geared up for that time. Right now, though, they should be okay as they are so long as they keep pushing behind the scenes. The diesel sales are likely to be strong and they should be ready for that.

  25. Richard Kilpatrick Richard Kilpatrick says:

    I hope it’s a success for them, I really do. It’s not a car that I’d want – it’s not a genre of car I’ve ever wanted – but, as most modern cars are so similar, so dull, the brand really does seem to be all that matters. That, and the Dealer Network.

    I hope they have been able to get the paint finish right and of good quality, as that seems to have been one blot on the TF’s short run production.

    MG Motor UK also needs to provide the Dealers with enough support to ensure that every warranty issue – no matter how niggling or irrelevant – can be sorted quickly and without inconvenience to the customer.

    Here’s an example of what’s required: if the car develops a knocking balljoint, provide the dealer with the bits quickly and cover their costs of repairing it; don’t place a series of barriers to them putting the claim in which makes them discourage the customer.

    That approach – and it’s one that is rife in PSA Peugeot Citroën Dealers – will kill the brand’s credibility overnight. People still buy the PSA products because they’re dirt cheap and ubiquitous.

    However, anyone taking a chance on these early MGs must be treated as if they’d bought the best – then, if it’s a decent drive, the ownership experience will also spread and the brand should have a chance to grow.

    Anyone asking about the “Chinese MG” from an owner will be expecting tales of woe and will have “I told you so” hovering on their lips. It’s vital that MG ensures that phrase never gets out.

  26. Richard Kilpatrick Richard Kilpatrick says:

    Jonathan Carling :
    Yes, good luck MG – from small acorns, large scale manufacturers can grow. The strategy of starting with small numbers and growing from there should work, so long as the quality of the product is good.

    Anyone who doubts this should go and look at Australia and New Zealand’s industries in AROnline’s own histories! Mind you, those two countries had protectionist policies which accelerated the process…

  27. Climbsyke says:

    Anyone else notice that the green protective pads say NAC?

  28. Peter Harris says:

    The MG6 looks okay to me but I say ‘nuts’ to weedy engines – we need a 200bhp version to add some additional fun. I’d have one then if the drivability was up to the mark.

    Meanwhile, what’s with the fixation with hybrid power units? A good diesel offers better real-world econmy without the massive waste of building heavy batteries and shipping them around the world – what is the point?

  29. Mark Pitchford says:

    John :
    Well, at least 400 jobs have been created, but I still think the new MG brand will be a dramatic failure in the UK. I also reckon that the MG6 looks awful.

    @John
    Well, if this is your optimistic mood on the first day of UK production, I’ll await your comments with interest if things suffer a setback…

  30. Vavavoom says:

    Good luck MG! It’s good to see Longbridge producing cars, albeit on a small scale. I wish the workers, MG Motor UK and SAIC Motor all the best.

    Looking forward to seeing the new MGs on the roads…

  31. Wilko says:

    Is the MG6 in the top photograph on fire or has the head gasket just gone?

  32. @Richard Kilpatrick
    AROnline’s recent contact with various representatives of the MG Dealer Network suggests that most, if not, all of them would endorse your observations.

    MG Motor UK must deal with any warranty claims efficiently and fairly in order to build the brand’s credibility and win the trust of both those in the Dealer Network and their customers.

  33. Jeff says:

    This has to be good news – I hope it is the start of something big. The MG6 is not the type of car that I would buy at this time but I hope it is successful and the range is expanded fully and quickly.

    MG Motor UK are in the unfortunate position of having a bad starting point reputation wise in this country so this car has to be at least as good as say a Hyundai or Kia (hopefully better!) to find homes. The comments about warranty work here are valid ones and they have to treat this properly.

  34. Ian L says:

    Wilko :
    Is the MG6 in the top photograph on fire or has the head gasket just gone?

    No – it is rising from the ashes, just like a Phoenix. That’s probably not a good analogy!

    Seriously though, I wish MG Motor UK all the best and, if they need someone to drive them in a display team, don’t hesitate to ask. I’ve been autotesting MGs since the 1970s.

  35. Bob says:

    All the negative comments sort of undermine the fact that, although this isn’t the most British of cars, it will, at least, set MG on firm ground with a slightly quirky car which will actually appeal to the general public. The company can still create a proper MG later.

  36. Hilton Davis says:

    At last – after a six year pause – MG cars are being built (assembled) at Longbridge. Hopefully, the MG6 with its petrol engine will pave the way for diesels and other models too.

    I haven’t any immediate plans to buy one, but I wish both the car and the company every success and look forward to seeing them on the UK roads.

  37. Doodle says:

    The fact that there are 380 Engineers and 20 production staff at Longbridge tells you how much of the MG6 is actually built there.

  38. @Doodle
    MG Motor UK Limited has already admitted publically that, at this stage, only the final 20% of assembly work on the MG6 will be completed at MG Birmingham.

    However, as another reader has observed above, “from small acorns, large scale manufacturers can grow.”

  39. Peter Harris says:

    @Doodle
    Yes, that’s true but it’s a start. I remember that, back in the 1970s, Lada used to boast that they employed more staff in the UK per car sold than UK car factories did – if the MG6 is a flop, MG Motor UK may be able to make the same boast!!!

    Anyway, on a more serious note, when the MG6 gets more power, I’ll probably have one.

  40. Snapdragon Snapdragon says:

    @Glenn Aylett
    Nissan’s Sunderland plant built 338k cars in 2009. The projected Longbridge MG6 numbers are therefore less than 1% of that, which kind of puts it into perspective. A mainstream model, built in supercar quantities, makes no sense to me.

  41. Simon Woodward says:

    Snapdragon :
    @Glenn Aylett

    Sunderland built 338k cars in 2009. The projected Longbridge MG6 numbers are therefore less than 1% of that, which kind of puts it into perspective. A mainstream model built in supercar quantities makes no sense to me.

    …and when they started building Bluebirds at Washington back in the late 1980s the work force was pretty much the same as Longbridge’s today. They too started by making one model using knock down kits from the Far East with about 500 people and now they make a range of cars – in fact, 338k in 2009!

    Alternatively, they could just flatten the site and build a Tesco store and some houses that no one would be able to buy because of the mass unemployment in the area created by the collapse of MGR.

    I am sure the unemployed people in that area would prefer to have a real job rather than a live off the state. Give MG Motor UK a chance – Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that!

  42. Mikey C says:

    Snapdragon :
    @Glenn Aylett

    Nissan’s Sunderland plant built 338k cars in 2009. The projected Longbridge MG6 numbers are therefore less than 1% of that, which kind of puts it into perspective. A mainstream model, built in supercar quantities, makes no sense to me.

    I agree that, at the moment, the production line is a PR exercise – if a new importer wanted to launch a brand in the UK (think back to the start of Hyundai or Proton) and stated they would only initially sell 2-3000 mid-market cars a year, they would be laughed at.

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