So MGR is still talking to the Polish about getting hold of the ex-GM/Daewoo factory – only this time, it has brought along a Chinese friend to the party in order to gain more leverage during negotiations. It’s definitely an interesting situation, and yet again, it begs the question as to what MG Rover and SAIC could possibly want with an Eastern European facility.
In cold hard terms, Longbridge has more capacity than it could ever possibly need… The assembly building put aside for the MINI was never used, and stands unused to this day. BMW were thinking in terms of 300,000 cars per annum from this line alone, so it does make you wonder. The lines that are in use are also well below capacity – 25, 45 and 75 sales are all running at levels far removed from ideal, which again screams under-utilization.
We all know that the RD/X60 is never going to be built in massive volumes, so again, what possible use is there for another factory? For a start, wouldn’t SAIC be building the things in China anyway – and as anyone will tell you, labour rates in China are far lower than they are in Poland. So it is a riddle – a riddle wrapped in an enigma.
Especially considering John Towers’ public and passionate commitment to Longbridge.
We all know that the RD/X60 is
never going to be built in massive
volumes, so what possible use is
there for another factory?
One must assume that Eastern European production lines will be producing cheaper cars to slake demand for inexpensive cars in the region – cars to rival Renault-Dacia’s new Logan. But again, how could the company build a cheap car for these markets based on existing models given their Honda underpinnings? SAIC has nothing in its cupboards that isn’t owned by someone else…
So many questions.
Again, one can only make assumptions about why the company wants a presence in Poland, and one such pie-in-the-sky guess may be that Longbridge production may well end up being transferred to Poland piece by piece. Or perhaps it is Powertrain’s intention to move there. Who knows…
Well, John Towers knows, as does Kevin Howe, and no doubt Daniel Ward knows as well. One thing is for sure – if and when MG Rover/SAIC get hold of the Polish factory, we are going to want to know answers pretty damned quickly, otherwise unpleasant questions – the sort that don’t go away – are going to asked about Longbridge all over the media. After all, MG Rover sold the Longbridge site last year, didn’t it…
And as we all know bad press publicity costs sales. So here’s a direct plea to MG Rover management: if you end up buying into Poland, please tell us what your plans are, because right now, a lot of families in the West Midlands as well as a significant number of patriotic car buyers would like to know the answer…
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