Blog: Salvation from the Far East

RDX60Yesterday’s news that Phoenix had signed an agreement with the Chinese carmaker Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) has been met with a universal sigh of relief. Not least in the Midlands, where 5,000 Longbridge employees must have felt that the past few months have been something of a nightmare. What with constant badgering by the press on matters financial, the lack of solid new model news and a rising resentment in some elements of the press, it must have seemed that the company they work for had very little future left.

The implications of the deal are clear to see: MGR now has the partner it so dearly wanted in order to enable final development and the introduction of the RD/X60. Although no details have been announced as yet, the clever money is on it taking a similar shape to the ill-fated China Brilliance deal: the Chinese would assist with the development costs of the RD/X60 in return for production rights to the car in China. Although SAIC is already working with GM and VW, the MGR deal has the advantage of offering direct access to European vehicle technology that is currently closed to them.

The shape of the RD/X60 also seems to have evolved: from the ungainingly car depicted in the 2003 scoop pictures (see this month’s news), it appears that Peter Stevens’ team at Longbridge has considerably changed the exterior style of the car. The RD/X60 prototype was presented to a meeting of MGR’s suppliers, and by all accounts, it was a very elegant car indeed…

It needs to be. MGR now needs to pull something very special out of the bag in order to make a significant impact. Happily, on previous form, it has the talent to fulfil this stern brief.

It will now be interesting to see whether MGR will be able to meet the self-imposed Q4 2005 deadline for its new car. Timescales are now very, very tight, and it will prove a massive test for the company… if it makes it, I suspect a great deal of respect could be heading its way from the opposition. If it makes it…

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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