Essay : Why MG Motor has more than a fighting chance…

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Craig Cheetham

Based on the 2014 full-year sales figures, MG Motor claims that the brand’s rebirth has been ‘highly successful’, and that MG is also the fastest growing automotive brand in the UK, with sales up 361 per cent year-on-year –  AROnline’s Editor believes that, this time, it isn’t all smoke and mirrors…

 

Could this once again become a common sight on the roads of Britain?
Could this once again become a common sight on the roads of Britain?

A couple of comments on our news article about MG’s sales performance last year got me thinking. Yes, we’ve used an MG Motor press release for the basis of the story (it’s called work/life balance – all of AROnline’s Editorial Team contribute on a pro-bono basis and have other commitments besides our love for this site, the cars and the enthusiasts that fuel it) but, on this occasion, I have no concerns about the positivity of the language used.

Okay, so much of that growth can be attributed to adding a much-needed supermini to the MG line-up, as well as a more efficient diesel powerplant to the MG6 – but that only tells half the story…

MG3 has given the brand's sales a much-needed boost
MG3 has given the brand’s sales a much-needed boost

In addition to the obvious product range improvements, that 361 per cent growth in sales is quite an achievement because it shows that, at long last, the MG brand is starting to invest in its UK presence, and is growing its dealer network. Less than 3,000 sales isn’t going to set the world on fire, but it is a starting point – and here’s why I believe that to be the case.

From January 2005 until May 2014 (with a 12-month sabbatical in Australia), my day job involved heading up the communications team for Chevrolet UK, from the very day we launched the brand through to its untimely (in my view) demise when General Motors pulled the plug.

In our best year, we sold 21,000 cars – and we did it from a zero base, saddled by the baggage of the hugely unfashionable Daewoo brand and some of the petty and pathetic prejudices that we still see all too often around lesser-educated people about a car’s country of origin. Yup, we sold Korean cars designed by a microwave manufacturer and cynically plastered with the century-old icon of one of the world’s best-loved car brands. Sound familiar?

Probably not their finest hour, the Lacetti was a Daewoo hangover (and, yes, that is me behind the wheel!)
Probably not their finest hour, the Lacetti was a Daewoo hangover (and, yes, that is me behind the wheel!)

For much of that time, certain factions of the motoring media threw rocks at us. ‘That’ll be the Daewoo’, they’d say, every time we wheeled out a new product designed from the ground up by skilled automotive engineers to be as strong, durable and efficient as Europe’s best. Sure, those launch cars were a bit long in the tooth, but the later models such as the Cruze, Orlando and 2013 Aveo (which Autocar called ‘the best Chevy ever’) were actually damned good – and I say that without apology, not because of a deep-rooted loyalty but simply because I’m a car enthusiast who drove them on a daily basis, alongside many of their competitive set.

In my view, GM took Chevy out of the market because it and the Vauxhall/Opel brands were getting too close to each other – there are other, more confidential business reasons behind the decision that I can’t and never will divulge, but that’s pretty much the crux of it. Had that not happened, Chevrolet UK would still be selling upwards of 15,000 cars a year, and as the likes of Fiat, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Alfa Romeo, Lexus and our own beloved Jaguar have proven over the years, that’s enough to get by.

Chevrolet Cruze - a mid-size saloon that made its mark in the British Touring Car Championship driven by Jason Plato - sound familiar?
Chevrolet Cruze – a mid-size saloon that made its mark in the British Touring Car Championship driven by Jason Plato – imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…

MG doesn’t have the challenges of a shareholder-driven major global corporation behind it. Rather, it has the backing of a huge Chinese industrial giant that has invested in the UK because it knows our designers, engineers and automotive suppliers are not just among the best in the world, but are in many respects the very best in the business. And for those who decry the fact that MG’s latest models are nothing more than CKD kits knocked up from imported Chinese parts, how on earth do you think Henry Ford started his global empire?

Only 45 years ago, we sniggered at the Japanese. In its first year, Japan’s first brand to sell in the UK, Daihatsu, sold 14 cars, but still they stuck at it. Ironically, Austin-Rover’s finest hour arguably came when it got in bed with a Japanese manufacturer, having realised their persistence, determination to understand, compete in and better the European marketplace and ultimately bring Japanese working principles into British factories made them better at building cars than we were. Meanwhile, the Great British success story that is Jaguar Land Rover is funded by an Indian industrial giant with the same will to succeed…

Let’s not laugh at the Chinese. In March 2014, I visited Shanghai. The roads are packed, the wealthy are getting wealthier, and they know how to build, engineer and make things better than they ever have before. I saw more ‘Rovers’ in one week there, than I have in the UK for the past couple of months. Painful but true, and that, folks, is just the start of it…

There are more 'Rovers' in Shanghai then there are left in the UK, I reckon...
There are more ‘Rovers’ in Shanghai then there are left in the UK, I reckon…

Among some of the less open-minded, it seems easy to joke and snigger at the current MG line-up. And let’s be honest, the MG6, in particular, has obvious weaknesses that mean it’ll never realistically compete with huge hitters such as the VW Golf and the Ford Focus. But for now, in the UK and Europe at least, it doesn’t need to.

What MG needs to do is aim for organic growth. And no, we’re not talking about overpriced and unwashed carrots, here, we’re talking about slowly rebuilding its image, building up customer loyalty, courting and choosing the right dealers and treating them properly. And trying to do the same with customers, although not everything I’ve heard so far has been brilliant.

Dealer-wise, though, they’re doing a lot of the right things. For example, when Chevy UK set up shop in 2005, the demise of MG Rover was a godsend for our network development team. All of a sudden, there were loads of dealers with ready and waiting customers of a particular demographic and no brand of car to sell to them. In a very short period, Chevrolet signs appeared over the windows of many a former MG Rover dealer, and we were out of the blocks.

MG is mopping up the cream of the former Chevrolet dealer network
MG is mopping up the cream of the former Chevrolet dealer network

And now, that’s come full circle. At some sites, the Chevy signs are coming down and the MG ones are going back up. In 2014, MG opened 24 new dealerships. That, I know, is a massive investment. It costs a healthy six-figures to get a new dealer off the ground, so I’d encourage anyone who thinks MG isn’t taking the UK market seriously to invest that up their pipe and smoke it.

What’s more, I know for a fact they’re choosing carefully. How? Because, back in the day, I knew exactly which Chevrolet dealers were the ones who a) knew how to sell cars, and sell them by the bucket load, b) knew how to run their businesses efficiently and cost-effectively and c) knew how to look after their customers properly. These guys were some of the best in the business, anywhere, and from knowing them personally I wish them every success. And I don’t doubt for a second they’ll achieve some.

WH Brand in Lincolnshire was once one of Chevrolet's strongest dealers (as well as MG Rover's)...
WH Brand in Lincolnshire was once one of Chevrolet’s strongest dealers (as well as MG Rover’s)…

 

...And now, once again, it has MG signs above the doors.
…And now, once again, it has MG signs above the doors.
Meanwhile, MG's new Ca,bridge site was once the best performing Chevrolet dealer (and one of the best SAAB ones) in the UK...
Meanwhile, MG’s new Cambridge site was once the best performing Chevrolet dealer (and one of the best SAAB ones) in the UK…

Furthermore, with the launch of the new small SUV (and a raft of other new models promised), there’ll be more for those dealers to sell – and there’s nothing a car dealer likes more than some nice new metal to go at.

In the meantime, MG needs to harness the power of a brand that has instant recognition among British car buyers – and that’s a luxury that, despite the iconic American nameplate, Chevrolet never had. In market research survey after survey, we learned that brand awareness was really low. People simply didn’t know we were on sale in the UK. MG, however, remains a household name to many, and I, for one, wish them luck. It might not be the British manufacturing giant that BMC/BL-ARG once was, but it’s all we’ve got left. And I, for one, am glad we’ve still got it.

The GTS - MG Motor's great white hope...
The GTS – MG Motor’s great white hope…

 

Craig Cheetham

A serial impulsive car purchaser, Craig has had his name on over 200 V5s over the past 20 years. 10 per cent of those have been either 800s or Austin Allegros, with between 10 and 20 cars usually owned at any one time. Started out as a local newspaper journalist then worked for car mags including Auto Express, Classic Car Weekly and Land Rover Owner. Worked inside the car industry for a decade as an employee of General Motors, now works for a news distribution agency. Home based, which is dangerously convenient for further irrational heap purchases. Lover of all makes of car since childhood, with a particular leaning towards Austin-Rover... Father of three boys, so hoping to spread the car love. Other passions include rugby union, travelling and eating out.

93 Comments

  1. Well, I’m seeing a lot more MG5s around.

    As for Chevrolet, my main prejudice comes from having driven the deeply horrible Chevrolet Spark. No, it didn’t break down, and nothing fell off it, so it wasn’t awful in the sense that FSO or Yugo cars were relative to their contemporaries. But it was a fairly cheap, gutless car that had absolutely nothing to recommend it over, say, a one year old Aygo (that is if you rule out the CVT).

    If MG have the right dealers- preferably the kind of smaller non-franchise family outfits as suggested by the article, then they are half way there. They just need to produce something as sharp as a Fiesta, Focus, or Golf to really break through- being as good as a Vauxhall will only make them an also-ran.

  2. I think the problem with MG and while it will be harder for them than it is for chevrolet, is that there seems to be a ressentment about MG in its current form that there simply wasnt with chevy!
    yes they started out building from the remnants of the unfashanble daewoo but there cars for the most part were inofensive and pretty reliable. from a country with a proven track record.
    china is simply an unknown quantity with a very dubious track record in safty. and rightly or wrongly so these cars as simply seens as chiniese cars. with no MG DNA in them at all.
    MG at the moment makes me angry for this reason.
    i look at the 6 and 3 and think, “come on u can do better than this”.
    it may be designed in britan and engerneered here but they just dont look like they have any european much less british DNA in them.
    they look very oriental and i think people resent them for that. there simply not MG’s and im not talking ye olde worlde tyoe cars that hark back to the past either…jaguar has proven u can build a totally moden looking car yet still be totally british as well.
    im talking a moden british MG car. that looks and feels bang up to date and britsh.
    i want to wish it well i really do…but these cars simply are not good enough. both here and in china and i dont knbow why.

  3. Not convinced… in the slightest!

    Some serious changes and some bitter pills needed to be made and taken within the offices up at B31.

    Vivid advertising and a more slick approach to marketing, social media, self awareness would go a long long way to making up the lost ground. What we have seen is blunder after cock up after shameful unprofessional free marketing on facebook devised NOT by a sales and marketing publicity company, but a salesman that works in the showroom at Longbridge.

    The LE500 was dreadful in terms of quality, the MG6 is hamstrung by non VED friendly petrol engines and the diesel offers no real USP for personal or fleet markets.

    Yes ok they will sell a few MG6’s to brand enthusiasts but their residuals are dropping quicker than a Crab in a dockers boot – within the trade, they are a laughing stock.

    The MG3 is not a bad little rattler but DESPERATELY needs more gutsy engines – drive one four up with a boot full of clutter and they are flatter than Norfolk in terms of power and torque – madness… utter madness to launch such an important and nice looking car with such a poor set up under the bonnet. Its rather like putting a prize fighter in the ring with one hand tied behind his back.

    I WANT MG to do well but am saddened at the almost criminal way the whole brand has been re-launched… its just not good enough. Even the sub prime brands of old like FSO, LADA, Skoda (as they used to be)and Yugo had a firm hand on their marketing and knew intimately what their USP’s were.

    You and I and the rest of the informed world know they can do much better – and it wouldn’t take too much effort to radically improve the situation. But as things stand as they are… its just a sorry waste of time and talent of the few good men (and women) who still fly the flag for British design and engineering at Longbridge.

    • Pretty strong words, Mike. I wouldn’t be quite so critical of the MG UK operation. It’s possible that following the demise of MG Rover someone other than SAIC may by now have established a company with far greater UK, European presence. However, given that the focus is obviously on China, I don’t think that MG UK, its products and efforts, are so bad.

      • As I said in the piece, look where the Japanese were 45 years ago. MG might not be good enough yet, but as the first ‘Chinese’ company to try and crack the European market (which involves jumping through all sorts of European type approval and emissions loopholes just for starters), they’re further along than the rest – and they have British engineers to thank for it.

        Everyone laughed at the Japanese with their funny little cars. And oh how we chuckled when the Kia Pride made its debut 25 years ago, whitewall tyres and all… Just sayin’

        • 45 years ago was 1970, Toyota was selling Corollas and Coronas, Nissan selling the Datsun 510 here in Canada. Relative to the Cortina, which had a reputation for rusting so quickly that the struts used to burst through the fenders (wings),the Toyotas were tough, the Datsun rusted but it had an OHC engine and IRS.

          Nobody was laughing at these cars. They sold. In 1971, the Datsun 240Z arrived. I was taking postgrad study in London at the time, so got to see the state of cars sold in the UK. I wondered if they kept the good Landcrabs at home – my Dad’s 1965 had turned to iron oxide in 1970. Memories of Minis and 1100s sat on the side of motorways in the rain seemed typical of the first class electrical systems.

          At least I discovered CAR when in the UK, and of course they kept the Union Jack flying high for years, dunning Japanese cars for decades as being good for the minicab trade, while European “rivals” had that ineffable feeling of rightness. Utter tosh of course. But it matched the proud British spirit of disregarding the obvious if it was foreign. Evo is still that way, where the lads somehow find roads to cane cars at superlegal speeds, and then write fantasies accompanied by big photoz after a large cup of coffee.

          Now, you are arguing the exact opposite to this. Daewoos, especially the Mk1 Aveo had self-destructing engines mainly due to the plastic belt-driven cam gear deciding to come loose. Up till then, you could watch these undersprung overachievers boing down the highway. Only dolts bought them. The Cruze was the first decent Daewoo, and so concerned about Daewoo’s image has General Motors been, that stories about the car have been leaked in each of its main markets. In Australia, Holden completely re-engineered them (sure!). In Europe, well they were an Opel that the dunces at Daewoo assembled cheaply enough they could be flogged as Chevs. In North America, why GM completely re-engineered the Daewoo version into a heavy-duty tank suitable for the dire road conditions here.

          These stories are all apochryphal PR “speak”, an attempt to allay fears that they were not the usual Daewoo dross. People in each market like to think they’re being treated in a special way. And these days, the word is that GM is thinking of ditching Daewoo (GM South Korea) due to the bolshy workers.

          Now we come to MG Rover. We are supposed to believe that all the engineering is being done in the UK. What a load of rubbish. How do they coordinate with production engineering in China? Saying it’s by Internet would make me laugh. My experience is that they throw away the drawings and make it the way they want to, even when you’re paying the bill.

          The UK division is just part of the advertising budget to give the cars Euro street cred in China. All pretty cynical stuff, but 2000 or so sales last year in the UK is just not a serious effort.

          And then to claim that “It might not be the British manufacturing giant that BMC/BL-ARG once was, but it’s all we’ve got left. And I, for one, am glad we’ve still got it.”

          British? What are you nattering about? All we’ve got left? JLR engineers its cars in the UK, or had you forgotten? This MG Rover shoestring operation in the UK is just cynical marketing.

          The best comment here is from the man who visited MG and found MG6s covered in cobwebs and mildew. About sums it all up. This is not a serious effort on SAIC’s part at all. As a journalist, even unpaid, instead of the paean to MG, perhaps a bit of investigation on your part is in order. I see Mike Humble and Keith Adams have rather changed their tunes from times past as well.

    • I agree with Mike that the facilities and talent at Longbridge are being wasted. MG is a brand that is associated with sports cars. For the company to succeed it must replace the MGF in a roadster and GT design that is
      designed and manufactured at Longbridge.These would be the halo cars in the
      MG range and although the sports cars would be in a more niche market they would strengthen the MG brand and support the sales of the MG3, 6
      and SUV.Can some one at Longbridge please put forward a business case for
      these sports cars.The focus must be on the UK and Europe and not China.

  4. ” It might not be the British manufacturing giant that BMC/BL-ARG once was, but it’s all we’ve got left. And I, for one, am glad we’ve still got it. ”

    … and I for two !

    • All we’ve got left? What an unbelievably stupid and typically miserable British comment. Jaguar/Landrover and MINI – both former BMC/BL brands if I’m not very much mistaken are being produced in the UK in volumes that dwarf British Leylands output in the 70s. Not British owned? Well so what. As far as I’m aware SAIC aren’t headquartered in Tunbridge Wells!

      • Paul, fair comment. Maybe I should have said ‘all we’ve got left of Longbridge’, as it’s clear that Jaguar, Land Rover and MINI are going great guns.

        Outside of the BL stable, Vauxhall continues to hold doggedly onto Astra production, and while it’s not a British brand by name, Nissan’s contribution to the economy is huge. That’s not even mentioning the others (Toyota, Honda, Triumph Motorcycles and all of the commercial vehicle manufacturers).

        UK car manufacturing is healthier than it has been for years. On a personal level, though, I’d love to see MG succeed, and that’s a much bigger ask…

        I certainly have no issue with brands being owned by foreign companies.

  5. @ Dave

    With your own words you have hit the nail on the head – you are correct when you say “their products aren’t so bad”

    And it’s that wherein one of the major problem lies…. there is no room in the European market for a car that’s not “so bad”…. what IS required is a range of cars that are “so good” if you see what I mean.

    The “brand” has been back in the UK since 2008 and I am baffled at the silence and lack of “serious” progress.

    The article has an interesting thing about Daewoo, they were prospecting the market place a long time before they launched in the UK – you should have seen their pitch at the ’94 motor show. They hit the ground running with a range of two models using three bodystyles using four engines using two transmissions.

    They were priced right and came with spec and features and warranties that other manufacturers were scared to death of, and the advertising was vivid, memorable and slick. The cars were a bit average, but they had something different…. I was at the official launch of the range when they gave 200 of the public a car for free for seeding purposes…It was all very slick I can tell you!

    SAIC should hang their heads in shame for the way they have handled the re-introduction of MG, especially from such a large corporate group. Craig has spotted so many Rover’s and MG’s in Shanghai quite simply because they advertise and have the products available out there.

    If no-one knows you exist, how are meant to trade the tin. I’m beginning to wonder if there is a more sinister game plan going on. I would love to be proved wrong and I want them to fly, its just that I cannot fathom what their stategy or business model is as far as the UK goes.

    • Mike, I can see your point. I was perhaps surprised at the strength of your criticism.

      In terms of re-establishing the MG brand in the UK, Europe the lack of serious progress is in many ways baffling! I too want to see big success at home and am frustrated at the still tiny sales. I suppose in some ways I’m trying to find an explanation for the current position, trying to justify it.

      Who knows what the Chinese strategy is? Maybe they still have no intention for a big European sales push. With sales not reaching target back home perhaps SAIC have delayed plans to conquer Europe.

      At the end of the day Mike we on here all want to see the same thing – BL>ARG>MGR reborn, a big market presence again!

  6. Good article Craig and a thoughtful one from Mike Humble too. As a “brand enthusiast” and as such, maybe not inclined to be over-critical, all I can say is that I’ve put 10k miles on my MG6 and absolutely nothing of any significance has gone wrong – it simply does what it says on the can.

    It is comfortable, fast and an excellent cruiser and handles surprisingly well. Gas consumption might be a little better I concede but look at petrol prices today and hey who cares. The much criticised interior is as good as many other cars on the road – at least as good as my wife’s Hyundai (and they sell like hot cakes).

    I’ve just received a letter from MG with some Xmas gifts – coasters and a pen. Alright, plastic tat but at least it shows a commitment to maintaining contact with customers which must be good.

    I have to believe that most critics have never even driven the car. They might be pleasantly surprised if they did! As a second hand buy, the MG6 must be the steal of the decade…

    Fly the Flag! Even if it is “made in China”.

    Jim

  7. Austin is right; what a load of old nonsense.

    Nobody’s buying, nobody’s interested, and nobody’s ever likely to with the inept crew in Longbridge.

    And it’s the GS this week, not GTS. Do keep up.

    • Totally agree. Mediocre cars, mediocre marketing.

      Too many good Euro / Japanese motors on the market in the same sectors.

      The tripey bit is:

      “MG Motor has more than a fighting chance…”

      In China maybe MG has a chance but not in the UK for the foreseeable future. UK buyers are far more savvy then when they bought Daewoo Lanos / Esperos.

  8. Chevrolet Europe started off when Daewoo was still shaking off the ‘rehashed mk2 Astra’ image.

    Towards the end they had some interesting models, the Volt suited the big Chevy grille, and the Cruze saloon was in my humble opinion (dare I say it against a UK built car) a better looking car than the Leon-aping Astra.

    Why did they sponsor Manchester United when they knew they were pulling out of Europe?

    MG, I was over the moon to learn that a local ex-Rover (and MG-Rover service specialist) dealer is now an MG dealer. The other local NI dealer is a Hyundai dealer, who would’ve started off selling Stellars and Ponys, so they have form for new up and coming brands.

    • Will,

      I’m not backing the idea at all (indeed, I have my own view), but it’s fair to say that when the Man Utd sponsorship was agreed, it was at least a year before Chevrolet had even considered pulling out of Europe. There are also more Manchester United fans in China than there are football fans in the UK, if that gives it a bit of context!

      • Good points Craig, the bigger picture is international!

        Bit like Citroen racing a WTCC car that isn’t even available in Europe…

        • The C-Elysee will be coming to Europe, it was confirmed, accidentally at the Paris Motor Show, when the question was asked, we were informed that becuase the car has been a huge hit in WTCC, there has been a vast amount of interest, and Citroen are currently doing costings on getting it here.

          The Mazda3 saloon has been a hit, when Mazda expected to sell a few dozen rather hundreds, in just a few months, so expect to see it here, but not the Sister car the Pug 301

  9. I’m all for MG becoming a success but I do wonder if positioning themselves in the crowded mid-market hatchback sector was a clever idea.

    Surely those in the Far East coveted the MG brand because of the iconic 2 seater British sportscars it specialised in, before it simply became the ‘hot’ version of various Rovers (MGF excepted).

    Rather than pitting themselves against the Focus, Fiesta, Golf et al with average cars wearing a famous badge (but so obviously made in China) they could have developed a quality British-engineered high-priced sports car to sell at low volume. This could have immediately brought brand awareness, ready for run out of other models, and perhaps even gained respect from him off Top Gear. Instead it’s a bit painful.

    • I think many people forget that MG was originally a warmed over Morris Brand, and was always badge engineered other models, with a few exceptions, so nothing has changed, in fact you can argue that the latest MG’s are actually proper MG’s as they are also badge engineered Roewe models ?

      oh dear, i am going to get flamed now… I have my fire extinguisher ready….

  10. On a very simple level there are three markets to sell to:

    Budget buyers that want value, the market that Darcia are in and Kia has move out of. The problem for MG competing here is the likes of Darcia hava last generation Renault tech to dip into. R&D costs and costs of developing engines are paid by Renault and the Chinese are still reliant on western firms for their tech. That is why they bought MG Rover in the first place.

    MG is also the wrong brand for this sector, people still think of afordable sports cars. Yes there were saloons badged as MGs, but they generally had a bit more performance than a standard Austin or Rover.

    Mid Market: The area that the major players sell in, virtually impossible for MG at the moment. The cars, with the likes of Focus, and Mondeo are very good and the margins are very thin. MGs with dated engine tech have no chance.

    Up amrket: Jag, BMW and Audi land. Very difficult to break into with a new brand, but if you can, the best place to be. You can actually charge a price which makes the car profitable. If you’re really clever, you can have Ford volumes, and premium pricing like BMW.

    The problem is, I don’t see were MG actually fits into the market place. They seem to be going for budget buyers and younger buyers, However the brand is too sporting for budget, and I’m not sure it has enough appeal for younger drivers.

    • Wholeheartedly agree. MG aspire for the mid-market, perhaps even the premium market one day (why?! see my post above) yet they are forced to compete in the budget sector which is embarrassing and may prove to be a waste of time.

      MG should have stuck with affordable sports cars. SAIC should have bought another British brand actually associated with bog standard hatchbacks and saloons. Austin or similar.

  11. As Austin says, what a load of tripe.

    The sales figures are far below MG’s stated objective.
    Dealer coverage targets have been consistently missed with some leaving.
    Marketing is a joke where the punchline just doesn’t end. What happened to the MG90 promotion? Where was the publicity for the BTCC success? Why do MG authorise misspelt emails and web banners?
    Why have owners’ cars been off the road for weeks (in some cases MONTHS) because of the lack of parts? You devoted all of 9 words to that subject.
    That’s just some of the more obvious problems. There’s plenty more if you want to poke about.
    It’s an embarrassment, plain and simple.
    But hey, you carry on playing copy and paste from MG’s press releases.

    • Chucky,

      I agree with a lot of what you say – since MG’s ‘rebirth’, they’ve got a lot of things wrong. But the premise of this article is not to blow smoke up their proverbial – it’s my view, as someone who has worked inside the motor industry for the past two decades, that what they’re doing right now, at the start of 2015, suggests they’re finally starting to look at things a little differently.

      If they’ve got dealers like WH Brand, Buckingham and Stanley, County Motors etc on board, who are all superb operators, they have a fighting chance (I know, because I’ve worked with those guys and know they wouldn’t run a business if it didn’t work for them).

      I’m not saying they’re amazing, I’m not saying the cars are the best thing since sliced bread, and I have my eyes well and truly open as to what their weaknesses are, but I do also believe there’s room in the market for a niche brand that has an enthusiast following if they get a couple of things right. Choose the right dealers, the right geography and get the customer service in reasonable shape and you don’t need to sell thousands upon thousands of cars to run a profitable business. When all they had was the MG6 and a recycled TF, then from a cold, hard business perspective, there was hardly any point…

      Yet recently, WH Brand reported that the MG3 was their fastest selling car, ever. That’s in 90 years of trading, through the good times and the bad. They’re in rural Lincolnshire, Mini Metro territory if ever it existed, and they’re shifting the things like hot cakes. I live near there, and I see them on the road all the time. I acknowledge, though, that in more densely populated parts of the country that won’t work. The thing is, it doesn’t actually matter.

      If they find the pockets of demand, evolve and improve the product and pick their battles carefully, then MG has a fighting chance. No more, no less. And that’s exactly my point…

      It’s going to be an interesting one to follow.

      • Okay, you say you’re not blowing smoke up their backsides.(“Less than 3,000 sales”? Er, a little over 2,000 isn’t it?)
        You also say you’re more than aware “what their weaknesses are.”
        Off you go then, let’s read them.

        • Like I say, I agree with much of what you say… and ‘less than’ sounds worse to me than ‘over’, so let’s park that one as a linguistic difference.

          Weaknesses? Below class-standard engines, lack of competitive Co2 output, poor residuals, below par fit and finish, lack of refinement, under-marketed, way too little investment (to date) in establishing a dealer network, tiny model range (though on a global scale, I understand why MG6 came first even if it doesn’t seem intuitive to followers of the European market), high list prices, not enough dealers, poor aftersales, that nasty cheap plastic ignition key… there’s more.

          I drive new cars all the time, despite my love of old Rovers. I interact with car manufacturers and their marketing departments on a daily basis as part of my day job, my company car is a very well regarded European model that is superb at all of the above and is very difficult to fault on any level, so I can see where they’ve gone wrong.

          But… I still believe they have a fighting chance. I’m not even saying they will succeed, just that they have a far better chance of doing so than I’d have given them 12 months ago. Hence the phrase ‘fighting’ chance…

          • Call it whatever you like, inferring the company sold close to 3,000 units when they in fact shifted closer to 2,000 is egging the pudding. How credible do you think you or this place can be if you indulge in halfwitted spin like this?

            If MG are to have this ‘fighting chance of survival’ they’ll need to do more than some epiphany over dealer recruitment. Keith put it succintly in his post below; there are people in the commercial functions, and specifically marketing, who are clearly not up to the job of promoting the company and its products. They’ve continually screwed things up and nothing suggests they won’t change either.

    • Saying “Less than 3,000 sales isn’t going to set the world on fire” isn’t spin nor inferring they sold close to 3,000 cars…

  12. Thoughtful essay, but skewed sentiments, I’m afraid. The trouble with the comparison with Chevrolet is that it was staffed by competent GM employees, with more than half a clue on how to run, present and sell a car company in the UK.

    The problem with MG Motor UK is that it’s a company of two halves in Longbridge. And both seem not to get on (as was ever thus). On one side you have a world-class engineering team that works under the SMTC banner, and are designing and engineering some genuinely excellent product. Then there’s the other half – the MG Assembly and retail/marketing arm.

    And it’s here that the real problems lie. They’ve have numerous opportunities to intelligently relaunch the MG brand in the UK, and so far, each and every one has been squandered. BTCC – who cares? MG6 – poorly priced and undermarketed. MG3 – brilliantly priced and presented, a really quite good product, again killed by a lack of marketing.

    Considering the company has 0.2% of the UK market, there’s a huge amount of residual goodwill for the company. Car magazine editors will also place MG news stories way further up the news agenda than this market share deserves. Why? Because people actually still care. But that’s waning – and from my experience on this side of the fence, there’s an increasing misunderstanding of MG’s role in an international industry.

    Until very recently, these cars were being presented as British. Nominally, I don’t have a problem with that (the MG6 was designed, engineered and finished here, and MG is a UK marque) – but, in truth, it’s pretty naive and a dated approach. What they should have done is been bold – and trumpeted them as UK designed cars built to world-class(!) standards in ‘New China’ (or some such, I am not a marketeer). After all, your iPad, Sony Z3 or Lenovo notebook are all built in China, and all are perfectly good.

    Volkswagen and Honda both have Chinese JVs, and both are building product that stands up to European QZ. It takes a degree of re-education, but the public will accept Chinese goods as the technically the equal of European- or Japanese-built products. MG could have been the vanguard of this approach in the European motor industry – but instead it chose to promote itself with MGBs, Morris Minors and Tea-Cosys, and then wonder why enthusiasts are cynical.

    Now I have driven the MG3 and the MG6. Considerably. For the first all-new products from a brand-new company, they are both very, very impressive. Compare them, say, with the 1974 Hyundai Pony or 1991 Kia Pride, and they are aeons ahead. I like both, understand them, and would happily buy either. But here’s the crunch – I’d buy them had they been sold by just about anyone other than MG Motor UK.

    I suspect MG’s credibility window is now closing fast, and the first Euro-standard Chinese company – Qoros – has taken the initiative. And that is exceptionally disappointing given the good product that SMTC (and its Chinese counterpart) gave to MG Motor UK.

    MG Motor UK doesn’t deserve praise for selling the number of cars it has in the UK. No, it needs a hearty kicking for dropping the ball consistently and repeatedly since 2011.

    Sorry.

    • “BTCC – who cares? MG6 – poorly priced and undermarketed. MG3 – brilliantly priced and presented, a really quite good product, again killed by a lack of marketing.”

      And you say it was different to Chevy?

      You’re right, though.

    • Keith,
      I wish you had said all that when you were editor. That would of made a really good article. Although I did enjoy the different angle Craig came from with Chevy.

    • Lenovo are a fantastic analogy!

      Chinese company who took on the old IBM hardware business, when that corporation wanted to deal solely in software and services.

      You’ll see many corporates using Lenovo Thinkpads, the successors to the IBM products of the same name.

  13. The only people who are saying MG is doing well and are on the up are the poor owners who are trying to cling onto the last hope of any residual value and sanity.
    MG has failed thanks to its own incompetence and ongoing uselessness.
    For every new dealer they trumpet, an established one has thrown in the towel. There is simply nobody at the retail side of MG with any talent or foresight.
    It is a joke in the industry, as are its products. This isn’t playing the long game, it is trying and failing on a grand scale.

    • Absolutely true. There are several MG6s with 20- 25,000 miles recorded for less than £6,000 from dealers. That means that you would be lucky to get £4,000 as a trade in on a 3 year old car. With depreciation like this and petrol engines only they are not even minicab fodder.

      No private buyer in their right mind would buy an MG6 unless they had money to burn.

    • Ha! Really? So all that guff about believing MG’s hype, and he’s got MG on the hooks of the press agency he works for? Seriously?

      • No, I don’t believe MG’s hype. I just know there are a couple of cracking dealers with new MG franchises who’ll give it their best shot, because they’re people I’ve known professionally for years. And no, they’re not ‘on the hooks’ of anyone I work for, as you so eloquently put it.

        Anyone who suggests I have any vested interest in the company’s success is first and foremost, wrong, and secondly being quite offensive.

        There’s no agenda behind this piece. It’s an opinion piece, based on my industry experience. People are welcome to like or dislike it, and say what they like about its sentiment. But if anyone wants to question my professional integrity or my personal ethics, they can bloody well do it somewhere else, because I’m not that kind of bloke and this is not the forum for it.

        Subject closed.

    • Austin,

      The company I work for has nothing to do with the above debate, or my involvement with this site (which I do out of a passion and enthusiasm for the cars I’ve loved all my life and for a website I’ve cherished since its inception, and for no other reason).

      I’m way too professional to be swayed, and I sincerely hope that you’re not implying otherwise.

      Plus, said company has every single car manufacturer in the UK on its books so there’s no reason at all for me to show favouritism to one over another.

      Dare I say, though, what’s going on here?

      As an enthusiast of British cars and a fan of the MG brand (irrespective of who I blimmin’ well work for), is there anything at all wrong with a) hoping they succeed and b) believing they will? It’s merely what I genuinely think will happen, with a bit of applied logic based on my own involvement in Motor Industry sales, marketing, PR and network development at different stages of my career, having looked at what they’re doing now, and who they’re working with.

      I could be hopelessly and spectacularly wrong, but surely there’s nothing wrong with wanting the last shreds of the former BMC/BL/ARG/Rover/MG Rover Group to survive in one form or another?

      It surprises me, to be honest, to see how many readers of this site are willing MG to die, and I haven’t even started on the borderline racist facebook trolls yet…

      • Well said, that man!

        Oh, and if you will forgive me going into Non-Practising Solicitor mode here, perhaps some readers would be well advised to remember that the making of potentially defamatory comments about somebody can be an expensive experience…

        • I see nothing defamatory here Clive, just some people asking about the connection between the bloke who runs this site, which seems to be a little fond of posting up press releases and calling them a news article, and his day job of writing press releases for said company.
          Nobody said anything wrong, or even suggested that anything wrong was going on…
          After all, we all know that car journalists never write glowing reviews in exchange for free cars and lavish trips, do they?
          Oh, and coming on here making legull thretz like that makes us really believe something fishy is going on in the background. It also mkes me think that you might be using veiled threats to silence anyone who isn’t being totally positive about the whole MG experience…

          • Before making suggestive comments about my professional integrity, chaps, get your facts right. I don’t write press releases for car manufacturers.

            The role of the company I work for is to simply aggregate information and put it in one place.

            It has absolutely nothing to do with this site or any content that goes on it. I don’t even write most of the news stories…

            We all have to earn a living – I earn mine in a directorial role for a company that sends digital communications out on behalf of other companies. If you don’t like that, I haven’t got a clue why.

            In addition, I and the AROnline team of unpaid volunteers will happily welcome any news story, news analysis or feature that says good or bad things about any brand, if it’s relevant to the site.

            Even better, if you want to help out by taking relevant content from external sources and turning it into news stories, drop me a line. I’d love to welcome you aboard.

            So please. My professional life has nothing to do with the above, and I’m not going to question anyone else’s professional ethics either. All the above comments have done is leave a very bitter taste in my mouth – if you don’t know me, don’t make assumptions.

            Maybe we can all grow up a little bit and stop making things up. Meanwhile, I’ll stand by the comments made in my essay because they are, believe it or not, my opinion on what might happen, and are made with a certain level of understanding that may, or may not, be ultimately correct. Who cares? It’s an essay. A blog…

            We’re all entitled to opinions. And I will not for one moment make suggestions about the professional or personal integrity of anyone who is brave enough to have one.

            That’s not cricket.

            Incidentally, I could very easily have consigned anyone of the above comments to the trash folder on the back end of the site. I didn’t, because I have no agenda and am not scared to publish them. However, if anyone questions my integrity again, it’s all going. Nobody has to put up with that, least of all someone who gives up their own time to keep this fantastic web resource going.

            In good faith, and with genuine thanks to everyone who reads, enjoys and supports the site,

            Craig

          • Andycolm,

            Well, with respect, if you re-read my above post, I used the term “potentially defamatory” – my intention was merely to give everyone participating in this debate a gentle reminder that they should chose their words carefully so as not to overstep the legal mark.

            I do not, in all honesty, believe that amounts to making “legull thretz” (sic). However, on reflection, perhaps that was a case of me being too paternalistic…

            Oh, and as a matter of record, I have now been contributing to AROnline for over seven years and have never written “glowing reviews in exchange for free cars and lavish trips”… Indeed, any travelling done on AROnline’s behalf has been done entirely at my own expense.

        • Please don’t threaten legal action on what is normally a friendly site, it is simply unpleasant and uncalled for.

          As for the point the posters are making, I have no idea what the links are between your writers, and the people who run this site and the car industry, but if such links exist they should be revealed. It avoids problems like this.

          • Fair comment. My own connections are openly revealed in the writer biog at the bottom of each article I contribute, and I’ve never tried to hide it. I work for an automotive industry news distribution company as one of their senior managers, that simple. MG isn’t even ‘my’ client…

            Nor, incidentally, have I threatened legal action against anyone?

            Seems I’ve been friendly to everyone but everyone thinks that I have an agenda? So I’m not entirely sure what ‘problem’ I’m trying to avoid…

            I still stand by the fact I would love the see MG thrive, though. Sorry to all those who don’t, but I can’t understand why not…

    • I dont see your relevance, Newspress is a portal for Every car brand that issues press release, not just MG, it is a world wide company, and throughout that all brands offer up their press releases, so what if someone works for them, many thousands do, and many millions use the portal for reference and info.

      Making wild assumptions on peoples livlihoods is not what we do here…

  14. Local dealer was Chevrolet, changed to MG, now just selling used cars. The MG6 reminds me of a Chevrolet version of a Vauxhall in its design while IMO the MG3 has some weird styling features/body tolerances along with a gloomy interior. Perhaps Chevrolet should have been retained as GM’s Dacia. Mate of mine had the latest Aveo which lost a huge amount of residual value in 18 months. Still wish MG had relaunched the 75/ZT in the UK and the GS is in danger of being seen as a rebodied somewhat old and not particularly brilliant Ssangyong. BTCC is one of the things giving MG credibility but maybe now they need an MG3 race series like the Clio cup (doubt there’s any budget for one though!) Nice to hear from Keith again. Qoros seem to have good PR but the Israeli partners are apparently getting fed up with progress.

    • No they don’t!! As pointed out elsewhere, the MG3, MG6 are streets ahead when compared with the ‘starter’ models of the likes of Kia. They may not be state of the art but they do have appeal, their own usp. The mystery is why there is not a bigger marketing push to define this usp and make the public aware of it. As suggested when I last visited Longbridge a strange cultural difference exists. The Chinese want to see bigger sales before investing in such sales effort. Very cart before horse!!

      Why are you here with such a negative outlook? This site is for supporters of BL>MG Rover. It is for people who want to see it rise again. The internet is a big place. I suggest you go elsewhere!

      I’m still going to buy an MG3. I’m well aware it has shortcomings as far as 2015 standards are concerned, engine especially. However, it has the MG usp of having great driving fun at moderate speed. As someone who still subjectively regards his MG ZR as “probably the best car in the world” that will do me fine!!!

      • In my opinion part of their problem (and it’s a small part) is that their cars don’t have a USP. I’m not saying they’re bad, I quite like the MG6, I think it’s a nice car to drive. But that’s not good enough, it’s needs to be brilliant at everything.

        However, none of that justifies slagging off Craig (not that I’m accusing you of that, Dave). This essay conveys an opinion: we’ve also had less than complimentary articles about MG UK published on this site.

        Don’t think I’m a dewy-eyed supporter of MG UK, because I’m not. I think their products are ten or more years out of date and to say their advertising leaves a lot to be desired is being kind.

  15. I don’t get the MG Bashing either.
    But then again I
    I think a lot of it is from people looking to the past and MGRover, some with a lot of bitterness.
    But what’s done is done, life’s to short to be upset by things that can’t be changed.
    I am pragmatic in that the present and future are all that matters and the past is only there for learning,

    With a view to the past the MGR was in a pitiful state by the time it went bust, it’s products were bordering tacky and were very old designs, the TF was continually the most unreliable car to own (it is, I have a 2004 model).

    When MGR went bustI was still angry and upset that the core of BL was over, purely through underinvestment, short term planning and mismanagement.

    The marketing and after sales sucked too. So some things haven’t changed much.

    And surely the point of running a business is to make profits.

    And that’s where MG today differs, it intends to make a profit, the quickest and easiest markets with large rates of growth are China and the BRIC countries, any Car company worth its salt is focusing its attentions there.

    I am happy that the high value bits are in the UK, that’s the design and engineering that is still done in Longbridge,

    The MG6 aka Roewe 550 aka Rover 45, MG ZS replacement was quickest new car they could get to market, it would have been the laters direct replacement if, in a dream world MGR had survived, I still morn the loss of the G series TD that was in development and the MG sports cars.

    In regards to those pesky sports cars, the global market for them has collapsed, and in the countires of high growth they arent fashionable., and certainly not profitable.

    Indeed this isn’t the first time MG has been without a sports car, or indeed with other sports brands, Alfa Romeo being a prime example ( infact the Alfa is in my mind a more characterful and also struggling MG rival,

    As for comparrisons with Dacia, sales wise they have a much wider model range than MG and even the pessimists will have to agree that even the MG3 and MG6 are sporty compared to any Dacia.

    I think I get MG, why it’s taking so long, what they have had to rebuild and start from scratch.
    I understand that as with the past the present story is a complex one with no Black and white answers.

    And lots of horses and carts, such as the vicious triangle of marketing, distribution and available product that MG has struggled with over the past few years.

    The MG3 breaks that triangle apart abit, allowing growth in sales and in its UK distribution network.

    Time will tell, but I certainly am enjoyIng the present and looking forward to the future with MG around.

    Hoping the new engine is as good as its sounds (Vauxhall Adam has just been relaunched with it, and it’s good)
    And finds its way into an MG 3 soon, because already on price alone I’d have one over a MINI.

  16. BMC, British Leyland, BL, Autin Rover, and my favourite years the Rover Group are ancestors of MG.

    For me, MG, JLR and to a lesser extent MINI are my Manchester City, each a different player. And as with football, I don’t give a toss who owns it or what race the players, I just want them to keep playing, to stay in the game.

    The MG3 is the only logical successor to our current Rover 25, it’s more tasteful than the ZR and a massive leap ahead in all areas compared to either, looks, build, quaility, price.

    It’s the only UK designed vehicle of that type, The MINi is massively more expensive, is bigger and has less space. It’s also make the MG3 look stunning.

  17. The product is good. Maybe SAIC will eventually realise the UK sales company isn’t up to the job and find someone else. Meanwhile, there does seem to be progress. Not sure about the character of current MGs – seems to me to be someway from the traditional MG ‘feel’. Even MG saloons seemed more special, presumably because they were sportier versions of cooking models. New MGs cover the full model range and aren’t so special. And the poor marketing doesn’t help. A bit of a contrast to that other re-launched BL brand, the MINI.

    Keep it up Craig – your integrity is there for all to see.

  18. I liked your essay Craig and am disappointed by the pointless personal jibes. I have this week bought an MG3 and am really pleased with it. The fit and finish is superb although I miss the quality of materials and ambience of the Rover 75 that I traded in. Only slight gripes are the slightly flat engine and just one reversing light. I’m told the engine will loosen up and the handling and steering are brilliant and my gearbox a delight to use. The dealer was appointed three months ago and has sold thirty MG3s already but no 6s. To add credence to Craig I can say that this Falmouth dealer used to sell Chevrolet and prior to that Skoda. The MG3 is selling like hot cakes to former Fabia owners.

    • Ah yes, another of the top 10 Chevy dealers… I remember them being appointed. And again to my point about the right geographical positioning – if MG opens a dealership in the centre of a big city, then already it’s up against Dacia, Suzuki, Hyundai, Kia, Citroen, Fiat etc, etc… In Cornwall, car dealers are fewer and further between, and if they treat their customers properly, then the sign above the door or the quality of the product is less important than the personal service and aftercare. That’s exactly what I’m seeing in MG’s latest round of dealer appointments, which makes me think they’re coming at it from a slightly different perspective this time round…

  19. I didn’t even know you could buy a new MG! Never have seen one and I had a quick look on ebay.
    Well… To be honest the MG3 does not look right to my eye. The side view looks like a cross between a Skoda Fabia and a Talbot Horizon! The front makes me think Citroen, Chinese Citroen.

    While it would be good to get new MG off the ground and maybe end up with a fully British designed and engineered MG such as Nissan did with the Quashqai. If I may be so bold to make a suggestion – interior materials.
    To make a MG feel like an MG and to be something different from everything else with a dour hard plastic dashboard and ‘strike a match seats,’ perhaps the modern use of the softer foam plastics and vinyl door cards would make the new MG feel at least different from a Fiesta or Corsa.

    Anyway I hope new MG make it and the next generation of new MG’s get a better styling effort.

    • I have to say, you frequent this site, and you never knew MG was back ???????????

      there does however seem to be a lot of “new” names in this post specifically….

      • I honestly haven’t seen a SIAC MG, probably because of where I live there are no MG dealers. Looking forward to seeing one in the flesh and I do hope MG makes an impact. The world is at a loss with the lack of a British volume manufacturer, or at least designed British. I was impressed to learn from this site that the successful Nissan Quash’ is a British creation and lets hope MG enjoys similar success.

        I do enjoy reading ARO articles and I was primaraly interested in the classic articles so I missed the modern interest.

        As for the design of most modern Escort sized cars, I just don’t like them. I own a 1970’s British classic car and which I enjoy driving a great deal. So the following reflects my own bias and prejudices;

        The way modern cars look like a pinched or flattened crab I dislike. Bumper lines at 45 deg against wings always looks annoying once a bit of wear and tear has occurred, also how low front bumpers are to the ground is just not realistic foe actual driving in my opinion. Interiors of hard boring un-human scratchy plastic I hate.

        Every medium sized car is the same in this respect.

        I am no car designer nor am I in touch with marketing voodoo and surely a part of the reason anyone will visit an MG dealership is indeed daft romanticism.

        Why can’t a dashboard and door cards be made of the soft foam filled vinyl? Why must all car seats be so scratchy?
        Finally, who actually wants all the tech in most cars? Reversing sensors, electric boot latches, rain sensitive wipers and all the rest. More junk to go wrong!

        Hows about a more base tech mid-size car with appropriate styling, a competent engine and a more human interior? Base tech with nice seats? Surely there is a gap in the market here? As I say I am not a marketeer.

        A car with a comfortable interior and base tech surely could be made with good steel at a competitive price. Likewise in Britain and Ireland air-con, is a con! Sure in a big luxury car, okay.

        So imagine an MG as such, Same price as a scratchy seated base Fiesta BUT with a softer interior and a front end that a lot of people actually can say, ”..it looks like a car!..”

        Another point to note is Chinese economics. PRC has literally billions of foreign currency in reserve which it cannot use or convert into renimbi, if they did then the Chinese currency would rise against western dollars, euro and pounds. Hoe hard would it be for SIAC to get some sort of grant to invest further in Britain!

  20. I think there’s some trolling going on. Not something I’ve seen on this site in the few years I’ve been reading it.

    I find the Man City analogy above interesting. As with many other BPL football teams, British brands and companies, they are now foreign-owned and often the product itself is also manufactured abroad (even the majority of the footballers themselves come from abroad).

    We can’t do much about globalisation, but clearly there is a huge perceived value in British brands, invention and engineering which I suppose we should be thankful for. Otherwise MG would be in the history books now.

    That said, I think MG have got the product and marketing wrong for the reasons I and others have previously stated. Not to say they won’t eventually get it right, but re-positioning the brand as mass market rather than ‘special’ is quite brave/foolish.

  21. Dacia = Haw to do it

    MG – How NOT to do it

    The sad fact is that it could have been oh so different from day one and the goodwill of many an ex MG/Rover owner who bought a 6 would not have been dashed, If or when they fail (and fail they will if this continues) they will have no one else do blame but themselves, Oh and for the people that like to mention legal action when comments don’t suit, Threats (even if vaguely implied) usually mean ARGUMENT LOST

    • Graham,

      I do not, with respect, consider that my earlier post amounted to a threat of legal action – please see my response to Andycolm’s post above.

      Anyway, as AROnline’s former News Editor and a current Contributing Editor, I was just intervening to support Craig in a perhaps misguided attempt to prevent the debate which his article had prompted from descending to the point at which non-evidence based remarks might have been made.

      I genuinely do not understand how trying to maintain the standard of a debate can be construed as losing an argument…

  22. Thanks Clive – I think the general rule here is not to make it personal. Feel free to agree and disagree over the content of articles, the opinions of writers and the virtues or otherwise of the many vehicles the site covers, but let’s not take it to the level of name calling and back stabbing.

    There are other sites for that, and they also cover cars from the same stable. For those who’ve trolled their way over here from there, please feel free to make your way back home 🙂

    For the rest of you, keep up the debate – it’s interesting to read the many different viewpoints, and I think 2015 will be a critical year for the future of MG Motor UK. Will M makes a great point, above, about how the global picture is much bigger than the UK one (MG6 residual values, in the globalised grand scheme of things, are what they are…), and there are a number of factors that don’t help the current UK position.

    But from where they were 12 months ago to where they are now, and with a few interesting developments (I believe) just around the corner, I go back to the very premise of my initial article – they stand a fighting chance. Time, then, for them to stand and fight (and for us lot, perhaps, not to?).

    Enjoy the weekend…

  23. Taking a second look at this article the statement Keith Adams makes is very pertinent;

    ”..The problem with MG Motor UK is that it’s a company of two halves in Longbridge. And both seem not to get on (as was ever thus). On one side you have a world-class engineering team that works under the SMTC banner, and are designing and engineering some genuinely excellent product. Then there’s the other half – the MG Assembly and retail/marketing arm…”

    This starts to look like what some people used to say about BL, in that, ‘they had the designs but couldn’t build them.’ Good design with bad production, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Then add to this questionable styling in some cases.

    Has SAIC resurrected the curse of BL?!

    Also the name MG is a bit much. Okay, if they are a British design then that merits an old British name, but the MG3, an MG? Who owns the Austin or Morris nameplates? Surely if the standard new MG’s were given a more down to earth ex-BMC>MGR marque the cynicism would be less barbed.

    A fighting chance, yes. I wonder though is new MG trying to fight with gloves a few sizes too big for its hands though.

  24. I see that you have put up a picture of MG in cambridge, I was invited by them to do two road test reports on the MG6 and MG3, both of which were very positive, and i was happy to chat with the dealer principal at length over the loss of SAAB, the addition of Subaru and MG to there showrooms.

    I was struck by the amount of advertising they had done, and continue to do, and upon asking them how many they had sold (from new) they said, a grand total of ZERO, which is why they went out and got Subaru into the showroom, so that they had something with a proven track record to sell.

    I felt from that conversation that the dealers were just left standing once signing on the dotted line, and found it not very surprising why they decided to go elsewhere with another brand, even though they have stuck with MG.

    I really hope this isn’t the case, and that MG are doing everything they can to keep the dealers, we hear, through press releases, each new dealer, but only hear from, well, the likes of us, when a dealer pulls out, and there have been a number in 2014.

    I really hope that they do indeed bring the MG GT and GTS to the UK THIS year, the sales momentum stopped in December, with sales stagnant against 2013, 128 (2014) 120 (2013) given that the market had a very good December, and MG had issues with delivering the MG3 in any significant numbers last December, I was very surprised at how low it was.

    MG will become a force once again, whether that will be back into the 100,000 mark in the UK, I don’t forsee that happening, not for some significant time, maybe 15-20 years, it wil be a slow burner like Hyundai and Kia, and look at them now.

    The UK should de very proud, we produce the best cars in the world, regardless of parent company location, no one can argue that Bentley, Roll, Jag, LR/RR, Aston are all brands to aspire too, and with the cottage industry we also produce some stunning cars, Morgan, Zenos, Caterham, Ariel and so on, and then we have the mass market brands, Vauxhall, Honda, Toyota and Nissan, all, without doubt, some of best plants in Europe, if not the world.

    I can only see another year of home grown growth for 2015, with a large number of new, refreshed, or midlife cars being launched this year, the only downside to this is, we no longer have Rover, Peugeot and Ford as car producing companies, but to close, and I am sure your all bored now, the UK continues to draw in companies from all over the globe, for its technical know how, great engines, motorsport hubs and more, we should all be proud that the UK can have all this and far more, I know I am…

    God save the Queen (no comments needed here thank you very much 🙂 )

  25. Good to hear more MG dealers are getting established (the livery looks good). However I have still only seen a handful of MG6’s on my travels and no MG3’s at all.

    I do hope the MG brand will re-discover its popularity but think that will be a long way off, given current sales figures. However as has been said here, just look at how Hyundai, Kia etc started out.

  26. Am I right in assuming the demographic of the Chevrolet driver is by and large the retired private buyer?
    Someone who is looking for reliable cost effective transport? Someone who is perhaps less image conscious?
    In this case the Chevrolet product hit the nail on the head and succeeded?

    MG need to decide what their target audience is?

    Are they aiming for the traditional MG buyer who expects a sportier than average product?
    Or are they going for the other end of the market that majors on value for money?

    Here in the UK- MG definitely have an identity problem, for the public will on one hand think an MG is a sporty car which the 3 and 6 are not, so those who purchase on that premise will be disappointed.
    On the other hand Longbridge might be hoping for MG to succeed at taking sales from the likes of Chevrolet customers, but is unlikely to do so as those retirees will remember the MG sporting heritage and think such cars are not what they want at their time of life.

    MG need to make their cars more sporty to reflect the heritage in the name, or change the company name so the buying public will not have any preconceptions to what they are buying.

  27. Mr. Cheetham: I don’t understand the animosity toward what is an opinion piece. It certainly wasn’t something posted by a troll that would justify such personal attacks.

    I’ve been reading AROnline for a long time, have managed to get the books on Rover’s collapse, The Cars of British Leyland and British Leyland Chronicle Of A Car Crash as I am fascinated by the British automobile industry. I appreciate the hard work all of you put into the site. [BTW: “Cars Of” was a book retired from a library in the UK which makes it even more special to me].

    I hope MG continues to grow and we see them strong enough to take on the US market. I know I’d be interested in MGs products. Far more interesting than what’s available in the States and a great historical back-story.

    The slow build up in the UK seems to be a conservative approach but not helped by proper promotion from what I have read here.

    Seems a cautious approach so as not to repeat Hyundai’s big blast off with unreliable products as was the case here in the US, but you still need to promote your product.

    How are they doing in South America and other markets?

    BTW: I’m a big fan of the Marina and Allegro and love the Maestro and Montego as well. I drive an 05 Saturn ION and have owned a 63 Valiant Signet 2 door hardtop for decades. It’s a sickness.

    I wish MG the all the success possible in the future. From nothing to nearly 3000 cars in a year is a modest but encouraging start. In my opinion, Mr Cheetham, your “take” on current circumstances makes sense.

  28. I owned a sub prime car, a Proton MPi, in the late nineties and its combination of a very low used price, one careful owner( like most Proton owners), Mitsubishi mechanicals and value for money made it as good as anything from a major manufacturer. In two years of ownership it never broke down and the only fault was a broken interior light. Dacia seem to have taken off where Proton left off, offering cars with proven technology for very low prices and £ 6600 to get a near Focus sized car with a CD player, electric windows and central locking is extremely good value.
    I think snobbery and this Volkswagen fetish the motoring press have seems to constantly degrade sub prime brands.

  29. I have been reading the arguments for loving or hating the re-launch of MG back in the UK since the very start.

    I have attended MG shows with the “New MG6” on display with the MG hospitality tent next door full of pretty girls giving away free MG stuff, Pride of Long Bridge meetings, Touring Car Races around the Country, hell I even went on a VIP Press Day launch test Drive for the MG6 around Silverstone, I could NOT fault the way the new employees of MG were so keen and full of energy on the new Cars they were promoting, in fact I could not fault the MG6.

    Come 2013 after the doom mongers had been hacking away at MG`s style and provenance I took the trip up to MG head office at Longbridge to have a sneak peak at the new MG3 with the though in my mind of buying a used MG6 as I was then in the market for a replacement car, you see other peoples opinions about cars have never really bothered me.

    I arrived at the sales office mid afternoon and thought I had taken a wrong turn, there were indeed plenty of MG6 cars there, they looked like they had been sat there for 12 Months plus, in fact by the state of most of them they must of been !

    Cobwebs inside and out, leaves in front wiper scuttles and over roofs etc, VERY VERY rusted brake discs, Moss in window seals, that horrible black dirt you get off trees that ruins your paint work, mildew on seat belts and seats, I have seen cleaner cars at my local breakers yard ! This is MG Head Office for gods sake.Maybe it was their cleaners day / year off ? Nobody in their right mind going to part with £8000 + on a car that looks like its been left sitting underwater for 6 months.

    I bit the bullet and went in the show room, the staff were very good as usual, the used MG6 I looked at had a Flat Battery and was covered in thick dust, the only presentable cars in the show room were a lonley MG6 BTCC edition and an MG3, I went home Very disappointed with the whole MG experience, it came across that the magic of the MG bubble had by then literally burst.

    This is what now worries me about MG, they are trying to sell new cars, in my eyes they can`t even be bothered to sell their old stock.

    How many more people have gone to Longbridge, the home of MG, and come away bitterly disappointed by the whole MG experience.

    I was and went and bought a Honda !

  30. I too once saw an MG 6. About a year ago on the A66 in Yorkshire. And it was red…

    I was interested to read a comment from someone earlier saying that UK car buyers would no longer put up with cars of the sort of poor quality of 1990s Daewoos. I’m not sure that is the case. There appear to be loads of people who happily purchase Renaults and Citroens seemingly oblivious to the fact that they are consistently at the bottom of the JD Power surveys and are utter tat. People will buy any old rubbish as long as it’s cheap enough and marketed properly. Perhaps MG’s owners could learn from the French.

  31. Autocar, which is usually pretty unbiased in such things, has an MG3 on long term test.Their only gripes seem to be a hilariously low rent sat nav docking system, and the aforementioned lack of performance when fully loaded.
    I wish MG all the best, and those with rose tinted memories of russett brown MGB s should get themselves out of the dark ages, and stop looking at MG as it used to be, and consider the “new” models as cheap, usable, and [hopefully] durable transport.

  32. @ Nige, there’s nothing wrong with Citroen and Renault engines, but the electrics tend to be very wayward and the cars are very expensive and difficult to repair. I know Renault also have the worst record for MOT failures and many are acrapped as the repair costs become too much as they become older. Citroen do seem to going in the right direction, though, and their qaulity is a lot better than ten years ago.

  33. There are some pretty negative comments above. Such people must have no desire to see MG UK succeed.

    The more positive comments come from the enthusiasts, people who liked their 200s, 800s, Rover Metros, 75s, ZRs etc. True MINI, JLR are huge success stories. However, many also want to see Rover, MG Rover also have a future. That is why they support MG UK. They may be frustrated at its still tiny home sales but they still ultimately want to see it succeed.

    Some of the negativity assumes failure because the product is not the very best. It is not poor, however, and it does have its appeal. If promoted well, targeted correctly of course it can succeed. For starters they are relatively cheap and look good to many eyes – this alone should generate interest. Add a bit of “remember your Dad’s ZS” or similar to the advertising and of course success is possible.

    • I well remember my 1980 MG. Rust, replacement dampers and trunnions every 2 years, rust, whining gearbox, rust, rust and did I mention the rust? Most rose tint specatcle wearing oldies now have Hyundais or Kias as their daily grandad drive. The MG3/6 have as much relation to “traditional” MGs as I have to Kylie Minogue.

      Chinese MG don’t sell a sports car of the type that most of us remember MG for i.e. a Midget of B.

      I lost my rose tints when I replaced my 3rd set of lever arm dampers in 6 years and had to weld up new inner sills in my last MG.

      These days I drive a nice, reliable MX5 — like an MGB but without the pain.

      • I’m not talking rose tinted specs, MGBs and Midgets at all! Of course I know the 3 and 6 bare no resemblance. I am disagreeing with the argument that success is beyond MG UK. It has a product which could sell in reasonable numbers if promoted more aggressively, distributed more widely.
        It also has a heritage to exploit – more than the likes of Kia did. I’m not saying the advertising should focus heavily on B’s and Midgets but it could at least mention the history to create interest, certainly the Zeds.

        I can’t comment on your resemblance to Kylie Minogue without a photo (only joking!!)

  34. Thanks for the article – I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and agree with it.

    Only this evening I went out for a good ol’ blast in my MG3 and loved every minute of it.

    I wish MG every success for the coming years, the guys at Longbridge seem very enthusiastic about the brand.

    The rest of you, wishing them failure etc should hang your heads in shame.

    Whether they employ 4 British staff or 400 at Longbridge, its still British livelihoods and British expertise being used.

  35. Nobody is wishing them failure Craig but on past form, they really don’t deserve success.
    Dumping stock, damaging residuals, alienating dealers and a complete lack of marketing is unlikely to build the brand.
    Thus far, having missed their own targets by nearly 50% in the UK and plummeting market share in their home market, I do wonder where this bright future really lies.

  36. I wish MG good luck for the future! I’ve seen there cars and they are to a good standard. My father was going to buy an MG6 but got put off by the dealer as he had not PDI’d the car, and still had the factory rev limiter on it, so he couldn’t drive it properly. The dealer wasn’t professional at all, no MGs were parked at the front, they were all down the side of the showroom and behind the other makes, he didn’t tell you much about the car either, and was reluctant to tell you about MG. In the end he bought a Volvo V40 R-Design.

  37. Given that MG is a British brand, SAIC would be mad to let the UK operation fade away. They’ll keep building the UK presence in order to give their products an air of authenticity because it makes business sense to do so. They want European standards of design and brand integrity, which means investing in Longbridge.

    The MG3 isn’t far off the pace when it comes to its competition and the MG6 isn’t so far off the pace that it doesn’t make sense as a second hand purchase. New engines should improve the products and ultimately the residuals. Personally, I think MG will continue to grow slowly over the next few years.

    As for the branding, to my mind it makes more sense to put an MG badge on a small car than it ever did to put Rover badges on the likes of the 200/25 or Metro. If BMW ended up in the same group as Vauxhall you wouldn’t see them slapping their badges on the front of a Corsa, due to the damage it would do to their brand. The Rover Group’s approach to branding was nuts, IMHO.

    The new MGs aren’t quite the British Alfa Romeos that you’d hope they would be, but they’re decent enough looking cars and they handle well according to all reports. That’s not a bad achievement for a company’s first Western offering. Once they’ve moved away from using warmed over K-series engines and expanded their engine line up these cars will be more formidable propositions. In the mean time my Dad’s actually looking at buying an MG6, because as a second hand buy they’re a bargain.

    • Well said regarding MG!

      Regarding the Rover branding I don’t think it was so wrong. They were trying to give the whole range a quality image. The Rover name was ultimately devalued but for a brief time the idea worked – the whole Rover range was regarded as a cut above Fords, Vauxhalls.

  38. in all the comments to this article I miss but one important point: Why has MG Motor’s presence in the EU been limited to the UK from the time the relaunch started? With the MG6 and MG3 on sale in Britain, these cars will have European type approval. They are on sale in LHD spec as well in various parts of eastern Europe (but outside the EU), so parts availability shouldn’t be an issue.

    At the moment, it would be fairly easy for me to buy an MG6 or MG3 in Britain and take it home to Germany without any problems, MG Motor UK will even provide the required CoC document for free. But apart from me there are very few people who would want to drive a RHD car in a right hand traffic country. Why are MG confining the EU type approved cars to a quite isolated market and do not go for the big deals possible on the continent? If I see how many Dacias are around on the roads over here, the market for a reasonably priced but well equipped saloon will be there. Even more so for the MG3, which could make a very nice city runaround or second car for the family.

    I have not yet driven the MG6 but had a quick go in the MG3 at Silverstone last year. Tbh, I wasn’t too impressed, in my opinion the driving position is too high and the throttle response far from what I’d expect from a modern engine. But then I don’t think the MG3 is seen as a successor to the ZR. Which is a shame, they should definitely put a hot version in the showroom. Someone mentioned the old Peugeot 205 here, this is what I’m thinking of. A nice, easy to drive hatch which would serve as shopping trolley in the basic spec but was available in a sporty version, too. Something to generate a certain brand awareness even with those who can only opt for the basic ones, for whatever reason (wallet depth, young driver insurance etc).

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