Press Report : SAIC to build Roewe 350 in UK

Hu Sheng, Automotive News Europe, 24th March, 2010

SHANGHAI — Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. plans to build and sell a right-hand drive hatchback version of its newly unveiled Roewe 350 in England, said Chen Zhixin, Executive Vice President of SAIC.

Chen, who is also head of SAIC’s own brand vehicles, made the remarks at the ceremony held last week in the east China city of Nanjing marking the new car’s roll-off from the production line.

The new car, which rolled off the production line at SAIC’s Pukou plant in Nanjing, has a wheelbase of 2,650mm. It is 4,520mm long, 1,780mm wide and 1,500 high. It carries a 1.5-liter gasoline engine and a five-speed automated mechanical transmission.

Pricing information of the Roewe 350 remains unknown. Chen didn’t provide a timeframe for the car’s production in England. At present, SAIC has a plant as well as an R&D team in Longbridge in England.

SAIC sold some 90,000 units of its own brand cars in China in 2009, including both the Roewe- and MG-branded models. The company, a General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG partner in China, expects to double the sales of its own brand cars this year.

In January, SAIC said it plans to sell UK-made MG cars in Europe at the end of the year. Assembly of MG-series models, including the MG6, would begin at its Longbridge plant in England late this year, SAIC Chairman Hu Maoyuan told Reuters on the sidelines of Shanghai’s annual People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Hu said MG models would not only be sold in Britain but also in other European countries through the existing MG sales network.

SAIC became the owner of MG Rover’s 10,000-unit Longbridge plant in Birmingham, central England in 2007, after a merger with its much smaller peer, Nanjing Automobile Group. Nanjing had aquired MG Rover in 2005 after Britain’s last remaining domestic volume carmaker collapsed through financial difficulties.

SAIC launched its first self-developed car, the Roewe 750, based on technologies acquired from MG Rover, in March of that year, followed by the Roewe 550 and MG6 models, popular with young, elite professionals in China.

One option for SAIC is to make complete knocked down (CKD) kits for the models in China and have them assembled in the UK-plant, Hu said in January.

[Source: Automotive News Europe]

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. WarrenL says:

    But will it be called “Roewe”?

  2. Andrew McCheyne says:

    It needs a name which is more English.

  3. @Andrew McCheyne
    AROnline reckons that the British and European versions of the Roewe 350 are likely to be badged MG 5. Hopefully, more information about that might emerge at Auto China 2010 which opens in Beijing on the 25th April, 2010…

  4. Paul Acheson says:

    It’s an absolute disgrace how successive Governments have just given away all of our industrial base for next to nothing. We have lost the skillsbase, knowledge, experience and valuable exports to ‘British-owned’ industries. Just look at all the other industrial countries – they all have their own car, bus, truck and motorcycle industries. What other country would give up their own national assets?????

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