Press Report : Longbridge to be renamed after over 100 years

Jon Griffin, Birmingham Mail, 4th March, 2010

LONGBRIDGE is being consigned to history after more than 100 years – with a multi-million pound Chinese makeover to turn the site into the nerve centre of MG design worldwide.

The former home of Lord Austin, British Leyland, Red Robbo, Sir Michael Edwardes, BMW and John Towers is to be renamed MG Birmingham, with an MG Worldwide Design Studio at the heart of the new operation.

The launch of the MG6 model later this year will pave the way for production running into thousands of vehicles, transforming the car firm from a tiny niche operator making just 400 cars a year into a volume manufacturer with major export ambitions.

The plans mark the biggest overhaul at the UK’s most famous factory site since Chinese firm Nanjing bought the former assets of MG Rover for £53 million after the car firm went bust amid debts of £1.3 billion nearly five years ago.

The Chinese plans for Longbridge have remained largely under wraps since China’s biggest car firm Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation took over Nanjing Automobile – but the site is now gearing up for millions of pounds of investment.

Guy Jones, Sales and Marketing Director of MG Motor UK Limited, said: “I do not think that people realise how big MG could be globally. They could have just shipped everything in from China, but this could be the gateway to Europe for MG.

“This is a multi-million pound investment. We want to make Birmingham the home for the MG brand globally – Longbridge is going to be revitalized. We want the site to be referred to in common language as MG Birmingham. The company will be MG Motor UK.

“We are in the second largest city in the UK but, to global and international people, Longbridge is meaningless. This is more of a subtle change; the postal address remains the same. We want to give it its own identity separate from MG Rover, to give it international recognition. Instead of saying ‘here is a plan of Longbridge, we will say here is a plan of MG Birmingham.’”

Mr Jones said the launch of the MG 6 later this year would be the catalyst for transforming the Chinese car firm into a volume manufacturer – so far the factory has only sold a few hundred limited edition cars and MG TF 135 models.

“We are going from small volumes to large volumes, from hundreds of cars to thousands. This is a very exciting time for a new company. This is the complete opposite of the rest of the market, where global players are looking to reduce and fight their corners.

“We are still going to be a very lean, very efficient company, but we have got the biggest player in the biggest car market in the world as the parent company.” The revamp of Longbridge will also see an on-site MG Dealership set up in the old Visitor Centre while the Conference Centre will be refurbished with a view to attracting other users.

“We do not have a significant presence in the centre of Birmingham and we are sure people would like to have their cars serviced at a factory dealership,” Mr Jones added.

[Source: Birmingham Mail]

Clive Goldthorp

About the Author:

Clive claims that his interest in the BMC>MG story dates back to his childhood in the 1960s when the family’s garage premises were leased to a tenant with an Austin agency. However, back in the 1920s and 1930s, his grandmother was one of the country’s first female Garage Proprietors so cars probably run in his genes! Admits to affairs with Alfa Romeos, but has more recently owned an 06/06 MG TF 135 and then a 15/64 MG3 Style… Clive, who was AROnline’s News Editor for nearly four years, stood down from that role in order to devote more time to various Motor Racing projects but still contributes articles on as regular basis as his other commitments permit.

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  1. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    Sounds very positive to me – I’d like to see them do a BMW Oxford with it…

  2. Andrew McCheyne says:

    How about Mini Oxford or Mini Brooks?

  3. David says:

    Funny, but BMW tried this back in 1999 by renaming the Longbridge assembly plant as BMW Group Plant Birmingham No. 32.

    Anyway, if MG Motor UK are consigning the Longbridge name to history, and potentially any reference to its past, perhaps they would like to offload the 5 Millionth Rover (a 75) and the Rover 75 Coupe (sadly now wearing an MG badge and tacky rear spoiler) to the Heritage Motor Centre, so that those of us who have an ongoing interest in Longbridge and anything beyond merely MG can get to appreciate them.

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