Blog : MG UK – So long, and thanks for all the fish, Part Two

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

MG's insistance on releasing images like this will not have done its image a world of good...

So, now we have the news that MG Motor UK is wrapping up its UK assembly operation in the UK. The reality is that this will surprise no one, and draws to a close the most unsatisfying aspect of the post-MG Rover apocalypse once and for all. For the poor 25 people who have lost their jobs as a consequence, we offer our sincere condolences.

Back in 2011, I posted a blog entitled, MG UK: So long, and thanks for all the fish. In it, I complained vociferously about MG Motor UK’s appalling marketing strategy, and how it was undermining a perfectly capable car, and humiliating the good name of the badge nailed to its nose and rump.

In the blog, I concluded, ‘production in Longbridge is clearly not part of SAIC’s global plans for MG and, if it fails after a couple of years, at least the head honchos in China can say they gave it a shot, and ultimately failed – leaving the Birmingham factory open to become the R&D centre it was always planned to be.’

Give them their due, they held on for five years (at least, officially).

Since that blog, we’ve seen the company descend further into farce, squandering opportunity after opportunity to bring back limited manufacturing to the UK with a selection of honest, well-priced cars. During that time, there have been glimmers of hope – with the arrival of the MG3, and its great packaging, price and performance, MG Motor UK should have been onto a winner.

Instead, all I remember it for now is its ‘interesting’ launch at Butlins – which, at one point, saw us ushered into a stage show, where the two protagonists ended up arguing, and we, the amassed journalists, were thrown out unceremoniously – and yet, the test drive actually had me believing that the company could actually do something here…

However, these glimmers have been rare. And rather like, John Cleese’s exasperated character in Clockwise, ‘It’s not the despair, Laura. I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand,’ I’ve constantly felt this way about MG Motor UK. The MG6 was a nice car to drive, the MG3 is a very appealing little thing, as for the MG GS, I have no opinion, as I have yet to drive it. I suspect, compared with the Citroen C4 Cactus I’m currently driving, it’ll probably be underwhelming and unimaginative.

All okay cars, then, but marketed, advertised and sold in a particularly slipshod, careless, unprofessional manner unbecoming of an operation that claimed confidently on the side of its main building in Birmingham to be a proud builder of cars in the UK. It also throws into focus the brilliant job as custodian that Tata has done with Jaguar Land Rover, and to a lesser extent, BMW has done with MINI. They’re doing well, expanding, and proving that British car companies make desirable cars that people want – and under foreign direction.

So, where does that leave MG Motor UK now? Well, it’s an importer. So, as such we can stop covering news about the product. The SMTC (SAIC Motor Technical Centre) is still active and, as such, doing great work – so we’ll be watching what they’re up to – but, as for the MG3 and GS, what news we hear on them will be as relevant to this site as Alfa Romeo or Subaru – small-selling importers. So, it will effectively stop.

In a way, that’s a relief for me – because it’s a point where I can draw a line. The post-2005 British Motor industry story has been a success on the whole. It’s just that MG is not – and never really has been – a part of that.

Ta-ta for now!

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk 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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102 Comments

  1. I shall look forward to much more space and time for ongoing news on the UK industry. There’s so much of real interest going on here now – for instance, I’d like to know more about JLR’s plans to design and build their own auto gearboxes, instead of buying in.

  2. Aye. How about doing design and development stories on Jaguar’s back catalogue? Perhaps even British-made Nissans and Toyotas? I’d love to see how the Jap cars came to light and see design proposals, etc. Make it happen, please.

      • Design evolution? Glacial!

        Carina -> Carina E -> Avensis.

        My dad had a Carina E and an Avensis Mk1 back in the day, both bought as ex-demo cars and kept for 6-7 years. They were big spacious cars for the time, and were 100% reliable. Right now, the Avensis Mk1 is one of the best bangernomics cars out there.

  3. Well said and the right move IMO. There’s so much good news in the British car industry these days and so many issues to cover. Talking about an unsuccessful car importer just brings everyone down.

  4. Well said, Sir. It’s about time this awful spectacle has ended and hopefully the lickers who bullied and shouted people down whenever they told the truth about what was happening will become enlightened.

  5. A good blog, Keith, and one that shares the thoughts of many of us on here who always wanted the best for the company.

    Criticism is difficult to take, yet easy to dish out. But people criticised MG not because they wanted to stick a knife in with a joyful spitefullness, people criticised because we care about the company and the cars it made and the people it employs.

    So enough of the nonsense MG, enough of those on here licking MG management’s back side, enough of the shambling marketing department, enough of the nonsense, we know your tricks and the smoke and mirrors and it’s fooled no one.

    Sort yourselves out or there will be no MG brand at all in the UK. In fact, take a look at your sales figures for China, they’re on the floor and, without the current strong sales of the Roewe RX5 (a car far, far superior to the dross SUV passed off as an MG), Roewe AND MG are both doomed for the scrap heap anyway.

    The truth is SAIC you might be able to make cars for other companies, but the eighth-largest car company in the world just can’t make any new designs of its own. You are destined to be forever a servant, not a master.

  6. Lol at that main photo. Looks like a right twat. You can imagine the customer saying to his wife “‘ere Brenda look at this MG, I got it with free floor mats and a bunch of flowers for thee.’ I bet that car is worth £3,000 tops now as it lost so much value, just after he got it home to his 2-bed council house in Chorley.

  7. Well done, Keith, I could see where MG was going from day one. A minimal dealer network and next to no promotion were two big problems, but a D-segment car with a thirsty and inefficient 1.8 turbo engine wasn’t going to do much as, firstly, the D-segment was shrinking and, secondly, most buyers in this sector want turbodiesels with low road tax and 50-60 mpg economy. When a turbodiesel MG 6 came along, it was too late.

  8. I personally think the current line up of MGs drag the once historic marque down to a very low level. The badge is great, the cars so, so, but the marketing is appalling – it’s kids’ TV level. MG would have been better off to die gracefully and be remembered for the great classic cars we can still enjoy.

  9. About three years ago, while waiting for my late-build MG ZR to be serviced and MOTed at the former MG Rover dealership in Budleigh Salterton (and who also had the MG Motor UK Ltd franchise at their other showroom in nearby Exmouth), I wondered through Budleigh looking out for any action. Wishful thinking!

    As I wondered into the car park furthest away from the town, there were two MG6s parked up. Not together or facing the same way, but still there were two of them. Checking out the registration numbers I quickly realised they were factory registered. Ten seconds later a Brummie voice behind me said: “Good afternoon sir, would you be interested in booking a test drive?”

    There behind me was a twenty-something man wearing a bright red MG-branded shirt who was sat on the grass bank with his his colleague. Clearly I wasn’t interested in taking a test drive as I like my ZR. We then ended up reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ of Longbridge, namely the MG Rover Group era and we parted on favourable terms.

    It certainly killed some of my spare time whilst waiting for my car, but a promotional roadshow for the MG6 it certainly wasn’t. I even gave them pointers about parking them in the middle of major shopping areas such as Exeter to gain interest rather than in an out-of-the-way car park in sleepy Budleigh Salterton. I was far from impressed by this approach.

    No wonder there are very few MG6s in East Devon and Exeter while those that I do occasionally spot are ex-factory registered examples.

  10. Well, just as most of us were amazed that MGR managed to survive for 5 years, isn’t it even more amazing that SAIC took 11 years to decide that their UK business model wasn’t a goer?

    • Exactly! And MG Rover Group did it without a financially rich parent company to support them along the way but instead had to work with an existing model range, three quarters of which were homing in on their fifth birthday.

  11. Pretty much nailed it, Keith. I’ve been a die-hard BLARG nut all my life but even I couldn’t bring myself to buy a post-MGR MG. The whole effort was just half-hearted and shambolic. We did briefly look at a 3 recently for Mrs B but she wasn’t impressed and settled on a Seat Ibiza.

  12. MG were selling badly promoted, not very good cars. No one nowadays seriously wants a family car that struggles to better 35 mpg and uses an engine in a high tax bracket, and supermini owners expect at least 45 mpg from their cars and to pay no more than £30 a year in road tax. Also suppose the car broke down and the nearest dealer was 100 miles away, or you had a big trip every time the car needed to be serviced, MG fell down badly on this count.

    MG could only have worked if the 3 was promoted as a successor to the ZR, with better, more efficient engines and aggressive advertising hinting at the car’s ancestors. The 6 meanwhile had little in common with MGs of the past and they were right to axe it first as the market for it was almost nil.

    • Surely, if the 3 was a successor to the ZR, then the 6 was a successor to the ZS (and possibly as it straddled C/D segments, the ZT?)

      I can almost see what they were trying to do – they saw Skoda as a successful brand relaunch, the most important post-VW product was the Octavia.

      However, the differences were:
      – VW was a respected brand in the late ’90s, Skoda was seen as getting this brand on the cheap. Almost how the BMW halo brand helps MINI sales.
      – In the late 90s C-segment fastbacks and non-premium D-segment cars still sold well – this was the era when the mini-MPV was starting to take off, SUVs were lumbering big vehicles for farmers and a crossover was when Richard Wilson appeared on Father Ted.
      – It was seen as getting a Golf platform vehicle on the cheap.
      – The then SDi engine and even the old PD TDi were respected units, taxi drivers and fleets took to it.

      Compared to:
      – MG was an unknown, many didn’t know it existed in new form, BTCC appealed to motorsport fans but most of the public thought it had went down in 2005 with MG Rover. Even those who were aware of it, the parentage of SAIC was unappealing, especially the somewhat underhand way in which they had obtained the MG Rover assets.
      – C-segment fastbacks and C/D-segment non-premium saloons are a dead market, family cars are split between small 2-box hatchbacks and crossover SUVs.
      – People are unaware of the platform origins, some think it is 75-based – a great car, but a car which unfortunately was victim to some negative press, and which is coming up to the best part of 2 decades old.
      – No diesel engine was initially offered, the petrol engine had links to the old K-Series which had received enough bad press due to head gasket failure that they might as well be offering it in a Lancia Beta. They never did offer an autobox either – something that makes modern motoring so much easier.

      I do see the occasional 6 about, though I presume that they are cheap ex-demos sold on when some local ex-Rover family dealers took on the MG franchise. See a fair few 3s about, though the demographic is not quite as youthful as MG was aiming for a decade and a half ago.

      I, too, have yet to see a GS, other than the model parked up in the Piccadilly showroom a year ago.

  13. The most tragic angle of this whole debacle has been that, as stated above, the cars have been a very good first effort, the sales and marketing efforts have been beyond dire.

    In engineering and also in marketing, tiny budgets often generate the most innovative of ideas, MG UK S&M have consistently proven to be the exception to this rule.

    Whilst I’m sure the participants in the ‘Key Ceremony’ above are both smashing blokes, they are both rather unkempt, the cover looks like it’s been half dragged off and the scene is topped off with weeds growing through an old, sagging fence. No other custodian of a brand would have allowed this to see the light of day but MG UK punted this in a celebratory press release.

    The GS launch.
    Never was it made clearer that MG cared only about sales in China. China got a high budget ad featuring Benedict Cumberbatch.

    Bearing in mind that the crew and location were already booked and paid for, the Chinese advert could have been reshot for the UK with a James Bond lookalike by piggybacking the resources already committed and for a tiny increase in the overall budget.

    The UK instead got feckless parents taking the kids for a pizza because the fridge was empty.

    Keith, at least you’ve come out of this with your integrity intact, you’ve called it the way you’ve seen it all the way through whilst others have issued platitudes in the pursuit of ligging.

    It can’t have been easy – I know of at least one occasion when management of MacDroitwich have had to refer the Longbridge incumbents to the case of Arkell vs. Pressdram (1971) and it’s clear that you have done the same.

    Well done, Keith.

    • A very good post, Sheefag, and I agree completely about the consistent witlessness of their attempts at marketing. The blunt fact is that, if anyone at SAIC in China cared about selling cars in the UK the clueless, under-qualified and out-of-his-depth Matthew Cheyne would have been sacked a long ago and an experienced and talented management team brought in. Instead, they stick with him, presumably because he is cheap. It was the same when Guy Jones was there though I suspect with his CV he was on more money.

      What sums them up is just today they have posted on their Facebook channel – the epicentre of their marketing “efforts” – urging people to check out their news section to read the news about MG. There’s one story missing and it is the one everybody knows about. How would you feel if you were one of the laid off staff and you saw that? Crass and clueless in the extreme. If they had any sense, MG would be keeping a low profile right now and waiting for things to die down.

        • I agree. That is one of the most hilarious “publicity” photos I’ve ever seen. It’s comedy gold – straight out of an Alan Partridge sitcom.

          The only thing missing is perhaps a curry stain down the chaps polo shirt or a pint of mild cradled in his elbow while he shakes the salesmans hand.

          I can’t believe they missed the opportunity to have him smoking a fag but then of course the whole MG debacle has been a series of missed opportunities.

  14. Very valid points, Keith – just sums the situation up perfectly. I have to add that I have enjoyed your interesting articles on the MG 6, 3 and GS development since day one and lived in hope of success for MG UK. It’s just not worked out as it should have though…

  15. I must comment on the feelings expressed by Keith and most of the comments so far that, because 25 people at Longbridge no longer install the powertrain and front sub-frames to small batches of MG 3s any longer, then MG is no longer ‘British’ or worth future detailed coverage on this site!

    The fact that 400 engineers and technicians based at Longbridge design and engineer the products of MG for now and the future, putting the heart, handling and style into the product is apparently irrelevant to you.

    Good luck when Tata-owned JLR produce the new Defender replacement, likely to be built in Slovakia, but designerd in the UK and therfore presumably as Keith says ‘no more relevant to this site than an Alfa or Subaru.’

    With that attitude, I expect this website will soon be the next casualty of the reality of globalisation in the post-Brexit world of motor manufacturing.

    Good luck to you all!

    • I’m sorry you misread. I will continue to support the fine work of SMTC (and always have), it’s MG Motor UK that dropped the ball. You must have missed that part of my blog.

      K

    • Could I be as so kind as to direct you, Austin Metro, towards a book called ‘Carry-On Car Making’. It was written by ex-Austin Apprentice and illegally sacked MG-UK/SMTC (depending on what day it was) employee called Ian Pogson. That might provide a somewhat illuminating piece. Please report back on your critical review of said publication.

      Assuming, of course, you’re not some sick sock-puppet from Longbridge…

  16. @ Andrew Elphick,

    This promotional photo summed up MG, an overweight, oldish man, a decrepit, ugly backdrop and cheap tarpaulin covering the car. Normally, new car launches feature a good-looking couple taking the keys from an immaculately dressed garage owner inside a showroom that is made to look plush. MG just had nothing going for them, I bet the dealer has probably ditched the franchise for lack of sales and has gone back to selling used cars, and the buyer received a rotten trade in for his car that he was disappointed with and now drives a Kia.

  17. Austin Metro, congratulations, that’s ‘WhatAboutery’ in a finer form.

    To directly quote one of the ex-production staff: ‘People think the engineers design the cars from scratch, they have 2000 engineers in China who do the majority of it. There are not even 300 engineers, HR, Finance etc make up those heads, too.’

    • The audited figures for average staff numbers in the accounts for y/e 31/12/14 are:

      MG: Total 93 staff split
      Production: 29 (2013: 29)
      Sales, distribution and administration: 64 (2013: 57)

      SMTC:
      Permanent: 164 (2013: 158)
      Short-term contracts: 128 (2013: 122)

      2015 figures should be released by the end of September. However, in the last couple of years MG’s accounts have been filed late – the 2014 accounts were filed on 11 November 2015 and the 2013 accounts on 7 October 2014.

      • Useful figures. It seems that the oft-quoted 400 engineers actually seems to be the total number of employees across MG and SMTC. Even the 292 SMTC employees will include the admin staff, HR, finance etc mentioned by Sheefag above.

        • There’s no excuse for journalists to not check Companies House and see what MG says about itself and about the information it legally has to reveal about itself.

          Companies House is free so there’s no reason to take the figures a company says about itself without verifying them. Let MG and SAIC file their statutory figures at Companies House – hopefully on time this year – and then we can report them.

          MG’s accounts state that it gets annual Government grants of about £50k. Did any journalist ask this question? No. I will happily help any journalist to navigate this resource.
          https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/

  18. Bye bye, MG. Very sad to see the opportunity lost to bring Longbridge back. I assume the area will be redeveloped now. The loss of token assembly might bring more jobs through regeneration but such a shame to see Longbridge shut the doors for the last time unless a saviour appears.

    The products have been mediocre, the sales low, I hope they were SAIC designs and not SMTC ones.

    End of an era – sorry for those who lost their jobs.

  19. I never understood the idea of the Longbridge assembly line, unless it was for marketing purposes back in China, the factory and development centre in the UK giving their products the cachet of an international brand back in China.

    The business model of importing cheap cars into Europe, with a UK development team to give them some local “style” and make them more acceptable for European tastes, is a perfectly logical one but, even there, the whole approach by SAIC has been incredibly half-hearted. Does mainland Europe even know that MG exists?

    In terms of whether this site should cover the products of MG, I guess the “pro” argument is that the SMTC will have helped design them (to an extent) so they are more British than a Hyundai or Subaru, though even there the number of UK designers and engineers is far far smaller than Ford’s Dunton centre and smaller than Nissan’s UK centre at Cranfield.

    • With sufficient volumes, UK assembly would save money by a reduction in import tax per vehicle sold.

      There’s obviously a high fixed cost of the rent paid to St Modwen but with high volumes, the concept would probably have worked.

  20. I knew the writing was on the wall with the unfortunate departure of Ian Pogson. PR man Doug Wallace is evidently no more, along with PR girl Lizi Piggins – Prova PR of Warwick now look after pr for MG Motor (not for long, perhaps…).

    I have yet to see a new GS on the road in west Lancashire although we have a new dealer in Warrington that’s very active – they took the last of the factory-registered 6s at half price on opening in summer. Nuff said?

    • I must agree. Pogson was a terrific MG Ambassador. He allowed me to race around Goodwood in his company TF. I attended a lecture he did at Durham University (in his own time, at his own expense) where he sang the praises of his company MG6 for over 2 hours off the cuff. Yet he was illegally thrown out the door for no reason.

      I don’t know what caused Dangerous Doug to leave, but again, another decent chap who always helped you if you called into Longbridge.

      Whenever a company gets rid of the good guys, you know there is something seriously amiss.

          • Lord Sword,

            Well, with respect, what Roger Blaxall actually said was “PR man Doug Wallace is evidently no more…” whereas you said “I don’t know what caused Dangerous Doug to leave…”

            Anyway, in the interests of fairness, I have now addressed my original comment to both of you.

  21. Well said! I couldn’t argue with a single point raised. You can imagine my joy, as I managed to part with my MG6 one week before the news broke. To say I am relieved, is an understatement!

    And what a shame really, that MG as a subject (quite rightly mind) has a place of mention on this site no more. Selfishly, I hope the brand fails globally and can be resigned to the “spares” bin, offering only fond memories as the cover on my MG TF is rolled off in the summer months and that octagon catches the sunlight once more.

    Matt

  22. So, in reality, latterly the “production line” at Longbridge was not that far different to the shed in Hull where they made Lada Rivas a bit more relevant to the UK market by fitting Mountney steering wheels and anonymous wheel trims – in fact, MG Motor UK is little different to the UK importer of said Communist-built shiteboxes.

  23. An enquiry via the DVLA’s website about AE11 AXZ shows that the “vehicle details could not be found.”

    Oh dear. Quite fitting, really.

  24. Having suffered a 2012 MGTF (and shared with you my tale of woe – absolutely the worse car I have ever owned – and that includes 3 cars from the BL era), I am – like many of you – not surprised by the news.

    Reading about what’s happening in Australia with several 100s of MG6s imported tied up in some type approval issues – with MG saying there is no problem with them but we won’t be selling them – so they are sitting in a car park (if what I read is true) suggests they are struggling with getting even the basics right in this early stage of Chinese car domination. What really sums up the care and attention they are paying to the brand is the UK website – which even today says the following:

    “MANUFACTURING FACILITY IN BIRMINGHAM
    Final assembly on the new MG6 is completed in Birmingham. We use the scale and technological advancement of the MG production facility in Lingang, China, for initial production. This includes the production of the car body as well as paint shop processing. 

Taking care of initial production in China means our UK manufacturing team can focus on the key components that create the handling experience our European customers have come to expect. This includes, the connection of the engine and the gearbox, as well as completing electrical connections and inserting the power train. 

The manufacturing facilities in Birmingham, including full paint shop capabilities, have been protected across our 69-acre site. This will allow us to expand when volumes increase and new models are introduced.”

    I find it sad, but understand, if cars are cheaper to manufacturer in Thailand. I can see that logistics of getting parts for very low-volume cars may be difficult. I just don’t understand why it is so hard to at least keep your website up to date!

  25. I look back at the criticism and contradiction that I’ve been on the receiving end of for the last few years, as I’ve been trying to describe what’s been going at Longbridge. Yet it was mild in comparison to what I’m reading now!

    There is absolutely no pleasure to be had in seeing this unfold, but some relief in it becoming public, so that the site can move on to supporting and reporting better things.

  26. Sorry, that sounds terribly negative; I didn’t mean it to be. While I’m genuinely sorry for the handful of staff that are now looking for work, there’s just a certain amount of relief that it’s all now out in the open.

  27. It was a bad dream, but just imagine if SAIC ploughed millions into developing some competitive new cars from Longbridge with over 50 per cent local content and a decent range of engines, a dealer network the size of Toyota was created and Longbridge by now was employing 5000 staff making 200,000 cars a year. Instead, we got penny numbers of staff assembling cars from a kit and penny sales.

  28. That would have been great, no argument. But it was always highly unlikely.

    From the very start, when they parked a series of completed cars in a factory and pretended it was a production line (I’ve never seen cars on any production line that weren’t in a perfectly straight line and obviously had road dirt on their less than virgin tyres before), it was apparent that all wasn’t as we were being told.

  29. MG is here to stay. Did anyone really expect Longbridge to produce cars in the long run?.It was never viable to send cars to the UK and assemble the last bits here. When Thailand went into production it was over for Longbridge production, it was just a matter of time.

    I am gutted about it but not surprised. As for the future, I have seen 3 new MGs scooped by different car mags with new engines and more dealers are on the way. Despite the news, September 2016 will be MG’s best month ever.

    Sorry to say this, but the majority of motoring Britain (despite the few good) do not give a damn where their cars are built. It does does stop the masses buying Skodas, Jeeps, Suzukis and SsangYongs and whatever else they can get their hands on.

    Have you people really looked at Britain’s Top 20 selling cars and seen how many are made in Britain? Stop the scare-mongering and look at the facts and figures. Yes it’s slow, but it is getting there.

    • But nobody (other than a few romantics) ever believed that the MGs were UK-built anyway.

      Nissan in Sunderland produce 400,000 cars a year, THOSE are British cars.

        • To me, it seems like hope has died. The previous scenario of a few hundred cars a month being assembled by MG UK at least kept the faint hope alive that proper manufacturing might return to Longbridge. SAIC has extinguished that final hope, though.

          However, in fairness to SAIC, its original plan was never to assemble in the UK – those were the plans of NAC, which SAIC was forced to combine with in a marriage of convenience.

        • Just read on this site that MINI produced 14O,OOO MINIs in Europe last year.No one seems to complain about that.

  30. “…what news we hear on them will be as relevant to this site as Alfa Romeo or Subaru.”

    I disagree as an Alfa or a Scubi produce cars of character and emotion whereas the MG badge is now put on cars with all the character and emotion of a Fridge Freezer.

  31. What always got me about the attempt to re-launch MG, was the half-hearted effort – it was as if they felt obliged to follow the traditions of BMC and BL when it came to promoting their products .

    One, in particular, was the decision to put the MG3 into the Terminal at Birmingham Airport, which was not a bad thing but delivered in such a way they might as well have not bothered.

    1: The young(ish) man and young lady who I saw promoting the car were unattractive, badly dressed and on opening their mouths “un-classey” now I know that may seem hard but the reality is that humans like attractive people. If the people are not blessed with good looks and then failed to care for them in diet and exercise then you are instinctively not drawn to like them as people and the negativity is only reinforced if the unattractiveness is followed up with choice of clothes and use of language and this all reflects on the product. They gave the MG3 all the sex appeal of a Bus Pass.

    2: Having put your car in an airport, you will quite likely meet potential non-UK customers, so you might just want to give your sales staff some information on your European market plans – when I asked about plans to launch the car in Sweden I was told bluntly they only had information about the UK so could not help me, or put it another way, we are not interested in doing business with you.

    Compare this with a recent promotion for the Volvo V90 at Stockholm airport I saw – the Sales staff were what I would describe as ultra Swedish, young smart professionals with a serious edge you cut yourself on. You just knew they lived in houses full of cool furniture and filled their spare time recycling and doing triathlons. They could send you sales material in the language of your choice, book you a test drive and get a dealer to contact you anywhere they were planning to sell the car from their IPads. The result was you so wanted a V90 because you wanted to tell the world that you were a successful person who had cool furniture and filled their spare time recycling and doing triathlons.

    Sure V90s much more upmarket product, but the MG3 was launched with the market line of being young and fun, surely they could have found some sales staff that somebody would instinctively would have liked to have had fun with?

      • I am tempted – it’s a lovely car to sit in and the D5 I have driven makes, I feel, a better everyday solution than a 4-cylinder, derv-burning 5 Series and Jaguar XF.

  32. Good article, Keith – restrained and not ranty.

    As you say, it’s a point where you can draw a line under MG UK. Now you can get on with the important business of working your way through JLR’s press fleet.

  33. It still amazes me how BMW mismanaged MG when they did so well with Mini and Rolls-Royce. And Tata has done so well with Land Rover. A strong brand like MG really deserves a similar renaissance – how on earth could SAIC squander such an iconic name?

    • BMW didn’t mismanage ‘MG’. They simply had very little interest in it. There were two points to the BMW acquisition of Rover/MG:

      To obtain a brand that could be marketed below BMW’s usual position, without damaging BMW itself.

      To get a build facility for this new product, in a low wage zone, with a compliant workforce.

      These points were obtained with MINI and Cowley.

        • Land Rover didn’t have any 4×4 technology worth having. The LR ‘technology’ was ancient. The only technology that BMW took with them was the hill descent system – and that wasn’t Land Rover’s, it was owned by an outside supplier with Land Rover paying to use it. BMW’s 4x4s are derived from a joint project with Toyota, and have nothing to do with Land Rover.

  34. The news saddens me and I also think it would be a shame if you discontinued following the MG story. They are still one of the surviving brands from Austin, Rover, MG etc. timeline.

    I am also wondering what happens to CAB 1 and CAB 2 at Longbridge with no “assembly” now taking place – will they stop paying St. Modwen and will we see it redeveloped?

  35. @ Kev,

    I wouldn’t exactly say Plant Oxford workers are low paid and surely BMW wouldn’t have taken over what was Cowley with the same attitudes that were around in the Seventies. I’m sure BINI workers are quite well paid, can buy the product with a discount and the factory is productive and clean, something a once militant shop steward praised BMW for. It seems what remains of the British car industry is a good industry to work in and the old them-and-us attitudes are dead.

    • UK car workers are paid about 2/3 of those in Germany. In addition, those at Cowley are increasingly drawn from a pool of agencies. This ensures a very compliant workforce – essentially, they’re on zero hours contracts.

      I assume from your comments, that you don’t work in the car industry.

      • If BMW just wanted cheaper workers than Germany, they could have easily just built a new factory elsewhere, e.g. Spain. It’s a lot easier than taking over an old existing plant

        And while Oxford outside the centre is workaday, I doubt if it’s the cheapest part of the UK to build cars, ditto Swindon

        • The important point you miss is the use of, and link to, the MINI brand. This simply doesn’t work without the UK connection, particularly in markets such as the US.

          Additionally, the UK Government never signed up to many of the EU labour laws. This means that BMW can employ people of cheaper, less well-protected contracts, than is permitted in the rest of the EU. The popular shorthand for this is ‘zero hours contract’. A large part of the MINI workforce is employed thus.

          For cost of manufacture, Cowley is well placed and always was. It is well served by road and rail. The plant occupies the site (and most of the buildings) of the old Pressed Steel plant.

  36. Read all the comments here, some quite nasty, which is a shame.

    I see quite a lot of MG3s and MG6s locally, in part due to the efforts of our local MG Motor dealer. I’d have had an MG6 if there’d been an auto, especially in BTCC special edition trim.

    Sad to see (token) production end at Longbridge, it was better than nothing and there was always the potential for expansion.

    I hope the brand continues to grow here. Its cars to me are more interesting than Ford or Vauxhall, and drive well by all accounts.

    Surprised not to see more support for the company here.

    • Ian,

      Agree totally… Once MG started courting some local, family-run ex-Rover dealers – rather than the “glass and steel” multifranchises that gave up after a month (RMG Motors which turned out to be some sort of scam, and Saltmarine which is the type of annoying large dealer that puts a superscript ‘e’ between the r and s of the word ‘cars’ on their window stickers) – the number of MG3s (and occasional MG6s) on the roads around has grown.

      In fact, the local family-run dealers probably do more for marketing the cars, locally at least, than MG ever did – radio adverts, newspaper adverts, shopping centre stands etc. This corner of the isles is far enough from Longbridge that the sad news of production line closure shouldn’t really affect sales. (Not to trivialise it, far from it – terrible news for the staff and terrible corporate move by SAIC, just that there is less concern here as to where a car is built compared to value, quality, reliability etc.)

      And agree re: the auto, makes commuting so much easier. I’m on the lookout for an interesting, keenly priced, D-segment family car with an autobox. Looked up the MG6 but no option. A shame, when big Rovers used to be known (and marketed) as relaxing driving cars.

    • Nobody on AROnline likes ANYTHING new.

      New Jags – too vulgar
      New LRs – too upmarket, forgotten their roots
      New MINIs – boo hiss, the Germans killed Rover!
      New MGs – boo hiss, the Chinese killed MG! And why don’t they make a two-seater sports car, even though it would only sell 2000 units a year?

        • I meant commenters. You’ve said it yourself before, any article on Mini or MG is guaranteed to bring the haters out of the woodwork.

          Not questioning your love of MINI and JLR, given the cars you’ve owned and discussed on this site in the past, particularly your recent Freelander and P38.

  37. @ Andy W, new Jags, a massive step forward for the company with cars that don’t imitate 50 year old cars and are now largely reliable.
    Land Rover, a huge success story for Britain with a range of cars that are massive export earners.
    New Minis, ditto Land Rover
    New MGs, a total flop and deservedly so and also a cruel trick played on Longbridge.

  38. Evening all – found this ‘wot i wrote’ after a day out with Ian P and his team when the 6 was launched to dealers and invited customers all those years ago.

    http://www.qlocal.co.uk/ormskirk/news_list/MG_%96_re_inventing_the_Octagon-50459371,1471527.htm#post1471527

    I remember one guy turning up in an SV – it was a great day all told.

    (And if anyone corrects me on the fact that southport and formby are in merseyside i beg to differ as the PR officer for Friends of Real Lancashire)

    Talking of southport, i took my Rover 600ti out this afternoon to ‘England’s classic resort’ (sic) and thoroughly enjoyed it – the drive that is, not Southport.

    Also popped in to see the boss at John Stuart Motors t/a Warrington MG this week – they sold 13 GS’s last month and 16 3’s so it’s not ALL bad news…

  39. So, how many production staff did Longbridge have in its heyday? Wasn’t it more than 100,000? And they ended up with 25. Let’s not pretend that was a car production operation. I’m very sorry for the 25 who have lost their jobs. Now it’s time to move on.

  40. Longbridge employed 20,000 in the seventies, not so sure about before this time, and even at the end of Rover, still had 6000 staff. MG employed penny numbers in comparison and didn’t have such facilities that Rover had like the powertrain plant and the paint shop.

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