Press Report : MG UK to suspend production at Longbridge until 2010?

John Cranage, Birmingham Post, 27th August, 2009

MG UK was non-committal yesterday over a claim that it was preparing to suspend production at its Longbridge factory in Birmingham until next year.

The BBC said the MG sports car line – all that remains of the once-mighty Austin car plant – would cease when production of a special version of the MG TF car comes to an end in a few weeks’ time. Such a move would prevent stocks of completed cars from building up at a time when sales overall are still bumping along the bottom after 12 months of steep falls caused by the credit crunch and recession.

The Chinese-owned company said in response that “no final decision has been made regarding a temporary shutdown of our production facility.” It went on: “If such a decision is taken we are likely to make a statement at that time confirming our intentions.”

Industry insiders said a temporary shutdown of the MG line would not come as a surprise in what are still tough times for car companies. Honda earlier this year shut its Swindon assembly plant for four months and most other UK factories have had substantial cuts in output this year.

Industry insiders said a temporary shutdown of the MG line would not come as a surprise in what are still tough times for car companies. Honda earlier this year shut its Swindon assembly plant for four months and most other UK factories have had substantial cuts in output this year.

Registration figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers of Traders showed that MG Motor UK Ltd, the new name for Nanjing Automobile Corporation’s Longbridge operation, had sold 184 cars between January 1 and July 31 this year – just under six a week. Those figures relate to the UK new car market and no information is available for how many cars, if any, are exported from Longbridge.

Nanjing Automobile Corporation (NAC), which is now part of China’s SAIC Group, bought the production assets of the failed MG Rover car company in July 2005 for £53 million with the intention of building traditional MG two-seater sports cars on the site.

Progress in building cars at the historic site was hampered by quality concerns and the NAC/SAIC merger. There were reports in March that about 30 jobs were to go at Longbridge but MG Motor UK refused to confirm that number.

But in April this year the company announced the launch of an entry-level MG TF, called the MG TF 135 and that was followed earlier this month by the announcement of a special edition TF to celebrate the 85th anniversary of MG.

MG UK’s statement stressed that its engineering development centre at Longbridge continues to work on future MG products for the UK and Western European markets. The company could not be contacted for further comment.

MG UK’s Marketing Manager Peter Brooking said on the 12th August that the cars were being well-received by dealers and buyers and added: “We fully expect the TF 135 to further re-establish MG’s presence and sales volume in the small sports car segment through its value-for-money price point of £13,511 on the road.

“The automotive market has been going through a very difficult time. However, we have been working hard to promote the TF and re-establish the MG brand in the UK marketplace. Whilst we do have a lot of interest from overseas, at present the UK market is where our focus lies.”

MG UK’s statement stressed that its engineering development centre at Longbridge continues to work on future MG products for the UK and Western European markets. The company could not be contacted for further comment.

[Source: Birmingham Post]

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. Best Bingo says:

    That would be very sad news for all business people.

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