News : January 2007
MG 7 prototype spotted testing in Nanjing
Spotted testing recently in, Nanjing, the home town of the new MG 7, this pre-production prototype clearly shows that few changes have been made to the existing design. Unlike Roewe’s 750, which features an all-new rear end and tweaked interior, the MG 7 appears to have made its transition to China untouched.
Photographed entering the Xuan Wu Hu tunnel that goes under Xuan Wu Lake in Nanjing, it’s clear that there will be little in the ‘new’ car to get Europeans excited about, as it appears to look like nothing more than a Rover 75 with hastily applied MG badges. But the achievement for MG has been to get to this point so quickly, especially as many commentators concluded that the plan would never work.
The car is due for official launch (alongside the MG TF) in April to co-incide with the 60th birthday of the Nanjing car company, and it will go head to head with the Roewe 750, trading heavily on the car’s British roots. Meanwhile, SAIC car prices have been confirmed – starting at £15,150 for the 2.5L Classic model, and rising to £17,800 for the top of the range Aristocracy version.
Picture: China Car Times.
Longbridge production stepped up
By John Revill, Manufacturing Editor, Birmingham Post
NANJING Automobile Corporation (NAC) has completed its first two Birmingham-built MG cars and says plans to restore production at Longbridge are on schedule. NAC aims to resume full manufacture of the sports car by April 7 this year – the second anniversary of MG Rover going into administration. The cars finished off yesterday were the first of 42 test vehicles which will be built at Longbridge in the coming weeks.
Each will undergo extensive examinations to iron out any production problems before manufacturing resumes – when the number of employees at Longbridge will rise from 110 at present to 250. The firm, which bought the assets of the carmaker for £53 million, has already passed nearly all of the Vehicle Certification Tests needed to launch the car.
A remodelled version of the TF will go on sale in the UK from July, while the old style will be launched in China. The restyled version – which includes a remodelled front end – will also go on sale in the Far East later this year, while hard top versions will follow in 2008.
Production will begin earlier in China in order to mark NAC’s 60th anniversary, where the TF will be built along with the MG 7 – Nanjing’s version of the Rover 75 which will be built in long and normal wheel base versions. James Lin, operations director of NAC, said: “Everything is totally under control, all of our plans are going according to schedule.
“When we first came here people did not believe we could do it. Some suppliers were a bit sceptical, but over time they have come around. It is getting much easier and having produced these cars shows just what we can do.”
While the finishing touches have been made to the TF in Birmingham, the car has also been undergoing extensive testing in China. They have been undergoing altitude preparation work in the foothills of the Himalayas, and heat trials on the southern island of Hainan. Meanwhile the car has been exposed to temperatures of minus 35 degrees centigrade close to the Russian border. Body pressings maker Stadco has moved part of its welding shop to Longbridge, while deals have been signed with 120 UK-based suppliers to provide components.
Initial production will run at around 3000 vehicles in the first year, rising to 8000 per year in 2008 and 12,000 by 2009.
Mr Lin said: “We have produced these cars so we can carry out our final tests, but also to give everyone confidence we can produce these cars and we have the capability to restore full production. Some people have been worried about that, but now they are confident when they have seen what we can do. Now they can come and see the evidence.”
Mr Lin said work was under way to develop a dealer network in the UK to sell the cars, with discussions with more than 50 operators across the country. He said some were very keen to take the new MGs, but appealed for help from the British public: “Now we want people to support us. I remember reading about Admiral Nelson and his message about England expects every man to do his duty. We have restored production at Longbridge and now we want people to help us. If they love the MG brand or history, it is their country’s car industry and history as well. This is not just our challenge to sell the cars. We have had help from suppliers and various authorities.
“Now we want the British people to support us.”
A closer look at the first MG built at Longbridge in over a year… (Picture: Ian Robertson)
Production of MG cars to resume at Longbridge
NANJING Automobile (Group) Corporation (NAC), the Chinese automaker which purchased certain assets of the former MG Rover Group, has announced that production of MG cars is to resume at the Longbridge plant in the West Midlands, UK, nearly two years since the last car rolled off the line at the facility.
Since signing the 33-year lease in 2005, NAC MG has moved the majority of the original MG Rover assembly equipment to its all-new plant located in the high-level New Technology Economic Development Zone in Pukou, Nanjing Province, China. The company’s mission to “revive, maintain and develop MG,” will start with the manufacture of the MG TF 2-seater sports car for retail in both the UK and China.
The newly established manufacturing line in Nanjing will be responsible for much of the assembly process, but all right-hand drive MG TF roadster customer orders will be subject to final assembly in the revived Longbridge plant.
The re-opening of the Birmingham-based plant will bring a welcome boost to the local economy, employing many former MG Rover workers who will provide valuable product knowledge and skills. NAC MG are planning to resume production in the Spring, 2007.
Full specification and further information on the MG TF model will be announced in due course.
World first for MGB owners
You can never have too much of a good thing…
A new website has been launched for MGB car enthusiasts – mgbclub.com.
It is the world’s first to offer the MGB community the opportunity to blog about their cars, restorations, repairs, journeys, clubs, events – and anything else they want to share – all in one place. It’s quick, easy and free for anyone to start their own blog (weblog) –giving them their own MGB webspace.
Anyone who starts a blog at mgbclub.com can also add links to sites they recommend (including their own), pictures and video. Visitors are welcome to post their comments and rate the blogs they read. The site also features the latest relevant news feeds, links for great information about MGBs and a dedicated forum. Users can sign up for news from the site to be delivered to their desktop on an RSS feed, too.
Find the site at www.mgbclub.com
mgbclub.com is operated by emap automotive; publisher of Practical Classics and Classic Cars.
MINI range expands to include the One and Cooper D
MINI One D identified by black mirrors and grille.
The new MINI hatch line-up will soon be complete, when the new MINI One and MINI Cooper D models are unveiled to the public at the International Geneva Motor Show on 8 March 2007. The entry-level One features a perky 95hp 1.4-litre petrol engine, while the Cooper D boasts performance and fuel efficiency from an all-new 1.6-litre 110hp turbodiesel powerplant.
A Cooper-badged MINI diesel hints at the sporty nature of the new model. MINI fans will be equally excited at the prospect of the Cooper D promising to be the most fuel-efficient and cleanest MINI ever built. In comparison to the outgoing MINI One D’s combined fuel consumption of 58.9mpg, the Cooper D is capable of 64.2mpg. A CO2 figure of just 118 g/km puts the car in tax band B.
The MINI One will cost £11,595 on the road, and the MINI Cooper D will be £14,190. Both models will be on sale from April 2007.
Both models feature the new body shape already seen on the recently launched MINI Cooper and Cooper S models. Interior quality enhancements and unique design features remain key characteristics of the One and Cooper D. However, several individual highlights set the cars apart. The 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine in the MINI One is derived from the 1.6-litre unit that features in the current Cooper model. Smooth power delivery and maximum efficiency are achieved using fully variable valve control, through a system based on BMW Group’s unique VALVETRONIC technology.
Maximum output of 95bhp at 6000rpm is produced by the compact engine, which is constructed from lightweight aluminium. The innovative powertrain is key to the MINI One’s ability to ensure a grin-inducing driving experience, yet offers the driver outstanding fuel economy and low emissions. A 0-62mph time of 10.9 seconds and top speed of 115mph are complemented by an average fuel consumption figure of 49.6 mpg – an efficiency increase of 15 per cent compared to the outgoing model.
The MINI Cooper D’s brand new turbocharged diesel engine develops 110hp at 4,000rpm. Under normal conditions peak torque of 240Nm is achieved between 1750 and 2000rpm. Deploying the engine’s Overboost function gives the Cooper D an additional 20Nm of torque, meaning the driver will experience 260Nm at 2000rpm. MINI enthusiasts will recognise this torque figure is identical to that produced by the new MINI Cooper S.
The new MINI One and new MINI Cooper D both come as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. Dynamic acceleration is a result of the precise shift control provided by carbon friction plates and helical gears operating within an optimised syncromesh. With its long transmission ratio, the sixth gear allows optimum fuel economy, even at high speeds.
This time around, the diesel model comes in sportier Cooper guise.
Land Rover sets global sales record in 2006
Discovery has won many new friends
Land Rover has achieved a global sales record for the second year running. In 2006, the 4×4 manufacturer sold 192,500 vehicles around the world, an increase of 4 per cent (8500 vehicles) on the previous year.
The year saw the USA become Land Rover’s largest single market with a sales increase of 3.5 per cent. Sales in the highly competitive US market were driven by the phenomenal success of the Range Rover Sport, which saw an 80 per cent growth. There was also significant progress in emerging markets like Russia, which saw its sixth successive year of growth, and the Middle East and North Africa region where sales increased by 54 per cent and 43 per cent respectively.
In the UK, sales of Range Rover Sport and Range Rover increased by 52 per cent and 12.5 per cent respectively in a year which saw the run out of Freelander, which ceased production in July. The all new Freelander 2 only went on sale in the UK in December, but still notched up nearly 900 sales in this traditionally short sales month.
Phil Popham, Land Rover’s Global Managing Director, said, “This is a fantastic achievement given we were without our volume product for most of the year and provides a firm foundation for the launch of the all new Freelander 2, a vehicle designed for a global market. We need to maintain this momentum in 2007 and continue to make progress in new markets.”
Land Rover’s modern, clean and efficient diesel engines are now dominating the UK market, accounting for 92 per cent of sales. Demand for the new TDV8 Range Rover saw diesel derivatives of the model surge by 145 per cent in the final quarter of last year.
John Edwards, Land Rover’s UK Managing Director, said, “The Range Rover is the UK’s best selling luxury car and with this new engine customers can get petrol levels of performance with a 32 per cent improvement in fuel economy.”
Sales of Range Rover Sport have exceeded 75,000 since its launch to become Land Rover’s best selling model. Discovery 3 continues to collect critical accolades with 85 international awards to date.
Freelander 2 has enjoyed a strong start
C-XF hints at an exciting future for Jaguar
The C-XF looks exceptionally exciting to us – kiss goodbye to retro!
THE wraps are off one of the most exciting debutantes for 2007 – and it’s New Year’s day! The C-XF prototype is more than a subtle hint of the styling of the new XF saloon, due later this year – it’s probably how the new car will look barring a few of the more fanciful details.
The new car clearly shows that Jaguar has finally and convincingly moved away from the Retro school of design, choosing to to play a more adventurous game for its vitally important new mid-sized range of executive cars. Design chief Ian Callum has clearly stamped a more contemporary design theme with the new car – which follows hot in the tracks of the impressive XK Coupe range.
The four-door fastback styling shows clear hints of the recent Ford Iosis concept, which wowed Motor Show goers in 2005 – as well as hinting that Ford would be going all adventurous again with its next generation of saloons. The Jaguar C-XF’s exterior might be stunning, but its interiors are pretty cool too, using wood as both a structural and a decorative element.
Now that Jaguar has that announced that spring 2008 will be when the XF goes on sale with a reveal at (possibly) the Frankfurt Motor Show this autumn to replace the ageing S-TYPE, the company is obviously using the C-XF as a way of previwing the new car and measuring customer – and media – reaction to it. According to Ian Callum, the new car will be less radical than the C-XF, and may well be less closely related to the final production car than the Jaguar Advanced Lightweight Coupe was to the XK.
The concept is exciting though – powered by a supercharged, 420 bhp, 4.2-litre V8, performance will be in the same league as the current S-TYPE R. Production versions will more than likely be powered by developed versions of the current V6 and V8 engines, and although it won’t feature the same advanced aluminium construction as found in the current XJ, keeping weight down will be a priority..
Looks like speculation about the XJ Series 1 style radiator grille were bang on the money…
SAIC and NAC-MG now producing their own versions of the KV6 engine
NAC-MG’s engine plant is now producing NV6 engines for its upcoming 7Z saloon…
NAC-MG and SAIC (Roewe) remain locked in the tough task of getting their own versions of the Rover 75/MG ZT into production – and although it was Shanghai’s car that was shown first to the public (the Roewe 750 at the recent Beijing Motor Show), Nanjing’s car isn’t far behind, with pre-production cars already been shaken down. So, although many believed that SAIC was considerably ahead of NAC in introducing its new cars, the closeness of the companies’ first engines off the line would indicate that the gap is closing fast.
On the 18th December last year, SAIC Motor announced the start of production of the KV6 engine following an intensive programme of production engineering, localisation of component supply and commissioning of its brand new £15m Baoshan engine manufacturing plant near Shanghai, ably assisted by Ricardo2010. The new 188bhp engine was part of the package of IPR purchased by SAIC in 2004 from MG Rover – and unlike NAC-MG did not include the provision of any manufacturing tooling or background expertise.
The team from Ricardo 2010 supporting SAIC Motor on the manufacturing launch of the KV6, engine included key engineering staff whose role involved the detailed specification of the production equipment required for the new plant, as well as its installation and commissioning ready for pilot production. In parallel with this, a team of ten engineers were based in Shanghai for the purposes of localisation of component supply, including supplier selection and development to internationally competitive standards. As a result of this work by the joint Ricardo2010 and SAIC Motor team, this powerful, Euro 4 compliant engine has been localised for almost total Chinese content and commissioned for manufacture in less than 14 months from the initial project specification.
Ten days later, NAC-MG’s first NV6 engine rolled off the line. The first NAC-produced NV6 engine was greeted with a great deal of fanfare – with the Group’s chairman Wang Haoliang, general manager, Yu Jianwei, and NV6 project director Zhang Xin in attendance. Using Powertrain tooling removed from Longbridge last summer, NAC-MG has shown impressive speed in getting the production re-started, and whereas it was thought that the company was about six months behind SAIC in getting its cars onto the market, the gap now appears to be considerably less.
Given that SAIC has expressed a preference to stay out of the European market until 2009 with the Roewe 750, we’ll be seeing the Chinese MGs first over here – and the question remains to be answered: will there be parts commonality between the Chinese and British cars in order to help maintain a supply of parts for the Rovers and MGs already on the road?
…but local rivals SAIC managed to get the KV6 into production several weeks earlier. Here, Ricardo’s manufacturing engineering manager, Steve Pitt, poses alongside principal engineer, Eddie Harris…