Blog : MG Motor UK – The US perspective

Sometimes it’s good to get an alternative perspective about things we’re familiar with – and this Car & Driver blog makes rather uncomfortable reading for anyone feeling positive towards the MG6.

We’ll let you make up your own minds.

Inside the New Chinese-Owned MG Motor Co.

In the town of Longbridge, just outside of Birmingham in the U.K., British workers assemble an all-new MG model from kits imported from China. We went up to the once-sprawling industrial site to check out the operation, where China’s SAIC employs 300 engineers, runs a design studio, and screws together mostly finished cars. Welcome to the future.

Quick History

MG Rover, the last British-owned mainstream automaker, and the last vestige of British Leyland, went bust in 2005. The pieces were sold off to two Chinese companies, including the MG brand name, the factories in Longbridge, and the designs for MG Rover cars and engines. Ironically, just as MG Rover and its predecessor British Leyland were created from government orders, the two Chinese companies were forced to merge by Chinese authorities, and now just operate as SAIC Motor. SAIC no longer officially stands for Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, which is part of the company’s aim to be more globally acceptable. In 2007, the Chinese flipped on a few lights at the Longbridge factory and had workers assemble made-in-China kits for the old MG TF roadsters. Few people bought them. But last year, SAIC established a much larger operation at Longbridge.

MG’s Setup in Longbridge

Standing in front of one of the derelict-looking factory buildings that SAIC is now using, you’ve got a clear view into a valley with some of the 150 acres that once belonged to MG Rover. Construction equipment moves dirt around, as a new technical college, housing, and stores are under construction. SAIC has in a sense retreated to the top of this valley, where two dozen buildings still stand. Some renovations to older buildings have prepared the site for MG’s staff.

A 25-foot banner on the side of one of the office buildings says “Designed, engineered, and built in the U.K.” At this point, you might well ask, “Wait, isn’t this a Chinese company?” Yes, it is. There are 300 British engineers on site, who work with a team of 2000 more in Shanghai. SAIC effectively gets a 16-hour workday from its engineering staff, as one continent’s team hands off its progress to the other at the end of the day. Next door, designers work in a studio with computers and clay models—we are not allowed in—which probably accounts in part for MG’s sedan, the MG6, looking more like a Mazda than a Dongfeng. Engineers we speak with us tell how they’ve optimized the MG6 and future models for European driving tastes. The suspension, for example, is said to be stiffer in the U.K. than it would be in China, where drivers prefer cushiness to sportiness.

Inside the Car Assembly Building

Staff at MG call the factory the “Car Assembly Building,” or CAB, and they’re right to do so. The enormous building, where the BMW-designed Rover 75 was once built, is almost empty. And it’s cold. Because only about 40 people work inside, and in a small space, the building’s heat isn’t turned on. Assemblers wear winter jackets, and if they get cold, some individual heat blower units are turned on. Some of them worked for the old MG Rover company back in the day.

It’s a sad scene, if we’re honest. The MG6 sedans are imported from China fully painted and mostly complete. In the CAB, workers need only install the front end of the cars: the engine and transmission, the front fascia. When you hear about “complete knockdown kits” as a method for automakers to assemble cars around the world, this is essentially what they’re talking about.

A Quick Spin in the MG6

We took a short ride in the MG6. For the time being, the only engine offered is a 1.8-liter turbocharged four, which is rated at 158 hp and 159 lb-ft of torque. The engine is a derivative of Rover’s troubled K-series engine, although the engine has been redesigned substantially and the K’s issues with exploding head gaskets have been sorted out. On one hand, if you’ve never driven a “Chinese” car, it’s pretty impressive. Shutlines are decent, and the interior is of mostly acceptable quality. The suspension is, in fact, pleasantly stiff. On the other hand, it’s a thoroughly uncompetitive car. The steering is completely numb, and the five-speed manual gearbox—a dual-clutch ‘box comes next year—is notchy and vague. To be fair, we’d need to spend more time in the MG6 to give a more thorough evaluation.

So you’d expect the MG6 to be positioned as a good value to British shoppers, and in a sense that’s true. The cars are well equipped, and both a four-door sedan and five-door fastback are offered. The MG6 is big for its class, ostensibly competing against C-segment models like the Ford Focus and VW Golf, but sized about a half a class above. Unfortunately, the MG6 just isn’t cheap enough. Starting at about £16,000 (roughly $21,200 at today’s exchange rates, and without Britain’s 17.5-percent value-added tax), it faces competition from not just Ford and VW, but value-priced brands such as Hyundai, Kia, and VW’s Škoda division. Most of these vehicles blow the MG6 out of the water in terms of driving fun, refinement, interior quality, and fuel economy. Cars from the latter three brands even deliver as much equipment and power as the MG6 at the same price.

Chinese and British flags appear (in equal numbers) throughout the assembly area.

Plans for World Domination?

In spite of the banner, much of the design, engineering, and construction for the MG6—and for upcoming models—was done in China. A staff this small can’t execute an entire product line on its own. But the impression that MG is British isn’t just helpful for sales in the U.K., where only a few hundred MG6s will be sold this year. Chinese shoppers mostly prefer western car brands to domestic ones. The ability to say not just that MG is a British badge, but also that the engineers and designers work in the U.K., and that you can see these very cars on British roads, may help persuade customers that they’re getting a piece of Europe, not of Shanghai. It’s not to say that SAIC isn’t taking the British market seriously, and the MG6 probably will be offered in continental Europe, too. But we suspect that even if MG never made a profit in Europe, it would still be a worthwhile investment as a way of legitimizing the brand in China and other developing countries.

Whether MG is in the right position to become a major player doesn’t really matter, though. This is the first inroad from a Chinese company selling vehicles that were at least partially designed, engineered, and manufactured in China in the western world. (We’ll exclude a handful of sales of a Chinese pickup truck in western Australia, because Perth doesn’t count as the western world.) In the next 25 years, we can expect to see a lot more Chinese companies selling their cars in Europe and the U.S. Apple has figured out how to sell California-designed, Chinese-manufactured products in the U.S., and with enormous profit margins. It won’t be long before Chinese car companies crack that code, too.

[Source: Car & Driver]

Keith Adams

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

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

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

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  1. This story does seem negative (not necessarily false though) but there are a couple of positives here:

    1. The importance of the British connection to the brand
    2. Space for expansion

    I think it will be interesting to see how the brand develops in the UK / Europe over time. I think it will grow over time and UK staffing levels will rise – well I hope so.

  2. I couldn’t even be bothered to finished that.
    Car&Driver really need to check their facts: apparently BMW designed the Rover 75 and the MG6 (which was set to be the new 45) is a “Chinese car”.
    Dosen’t give this much credibility does it?

  3. I’d give this more credit if they hadn’t accused the MG’s best point (its handling) of being numb where as its rivals from Kia and Skoda are ‘fun’.

    Are they on crack cocaine?

  4. I was in the plant one year ago. I was in the construction department and in the assembling department. I know these parts of the factory from the old days as Rover and BMW were the same company and it was really frustrating what has happened to that factory.
    It looks kile a nice garden were 100 sheeps were having their lunch some minutes ago. Everything was empty and the only cars wich were in the factory wery nearly complete cars were some parts were screwed on for finishing. That I could do with ten workers in a normal workshop and I could have the same output as that factory would have.
    it is completely silly to bring cars to Europe wich were completly put together excluding the front axle, engine and gearbox and the front wings and bumper.
    it does not make any sense to me to say that these cars wer brit built cars. These were chinese cars with a former british name!
    Please lets hope Tata will not do the same with LR-Jaguar. Lanchester, Daimler and Rover were already taken to the grave!
    Sad, but that will happen when the workers will strike insted of working!

  5. Hmm!? Seems a tad harsh, both about the MG6 and Longbridge.

    Pushed hard, I’m sure the MG6 has enough plus points, is sufficiently different to sell far better in the UK, in Europe. Looks good in the above photo!!

    For now, SAIC may be happy with just ‘the benefit of a British connection on the home market’. Surely, however, in the long term they have greater ambitions for Europe.

  6. What badly researched, opinionated drivel. Having driven quite a few of Detroit’s finest I dont think they’re in any position to criticise other country’s build quality and interior plastics.

    Kia & Hyundai more fun to drive! What colour is the sky on their planet?

  7. I don’t see this as being too negative, the fact is that once MG is back on it’s feet with a two seater America will be one of it’s biggest export markets.

  8. While there may be some typical American ignorance/spin on this, a lot of cold facts are in there. They certainly have an interesting take on how SAIC see the UK operation.

    The lack of heating & workers building the TF in winter jackets – we’ve heard this before from people who worked there, so no drivel here. This in itself breaches UK health & safety laws around temperature in the workplace and does not look good to observers from overseas.

    Yes, it may not have been brilliantly researched, especially around the design side of things, but that doesn’t disguise the fact that there are some uncomfortable truths in there and it sometimes takes an unbiased outsider to see them. As has been said before, a lot of this is down to their lack of proactive PR stuff and trying to do things low-budget. They NEED to get the finger out if they are to change perceptions of the type written above, especially as Ianto says they want to get into the US market any tume in the future.

  9. Back in the seventies (& probably even the sixties) we saw the manufacture of consumer product bought in the UK shift from Britiain to Japan. Since then, of course, it’s moved onto China.

    Surely then a Sino-British collaboration to develop MG cars is merely a natural progression from the one Austin Rover & the Rover Group had with Honda?

  10. “This in itself breaches UK health & safety laws around temperature in the workplace”

    I think you’ll find it doesn’t,

    They are only required to maintain the temperature above 16deg or 13 if it’s physical work. That’s not warm by any means. They do have a duty of care to issue appropriate PPE, ie a warm coat, gloves etc.

  11. Some of the detail may be wrong or opinionated but the hard facts remain. The Chinese are using UK to put the finishing touches to cars already made in China so they can claim the ones sold in this country are built here.

  12. Quote…”The lack of heating & workers building the TF in winter jackets – we’ve heard this before from people who worked there, so no drivel here. This in itself breaches UK health & safety laws around temperature in the workplace and does not look good to observers from overseas”

    Come off it… I worked for a major US oil company in the UK, and we had a deal negotiated by our UK unions that turned off the heating in factory production areas and we were issued with thermal underwear by way of “compensation”….it was just a way of ensuring the workers kept working to keep warm in winter rather than sitting round on tea breaks!! Health and safety regulations apply only if it suits the Company management to follow them….so lets not have a US journo lecturing us about how we run our industry…

  13. I think its a fairly honest article, the only point I would contest is the CKD analogy. its more like partially or marginally knocked down. A CKD is where the car arrives in completeley knocked down form and is assembled from the ground up (welding and all). but the point about MG neededing it to look British even if it aint, is certainly a valid arguement. I also add that MG probably could sell more if they tried, but I suspect, they are just edging in quietly and are probably ok with that. alex

  14. and im still not over the line on the looks of the MG 6. I think I would buy a Kia first too.. or a Suzuki kasha whatch call it…or a second hand Legacy… alex

  15. It is a tragedy that there is no mainstream British owned car manufacturer. The Chinese crave British cars, in Malaysia there is a 200% tax on foreign cars and I understand this is 300% in Vietnam. I see this as a form of oppression, denying consumer goods to citizens of these countries and it is extremely unfair on British car manufacturers.

  16. @ simon davies

    More fool you for paying subs to a union that negotiates such demeaning ‘compensation’.

    It may not, as Dennis corrected me, breach the law but it doesn’t make it right. We are obviously so desperate to keep our jobs in this country that we won’t challenge unsuitable working conditions. If temperature is below the required degrees, you are entitled to walk out. People have different tolerances to temperatures, which also affects humidity, so health is potentially put at risk.

    Still, if that is an accepted state of affairs for the world to read about then so be it.

  17. If the operatives are heppy working in additional clothing to keep them warm what’s the problem ???
    The unions have not done the British owned motor industry any favours in the past.

  18. “We are obviously so desperate to keep our jobs in this country that we won’t challenge unsuitable working conditions. ”

    Well i work outside a lot of the time, i’d be glad to work indoors during the winter heating or no heating. There are plenty of other people who’d do the same.

    The article also says they have portable heaters to warm their local working area, sounds perfectly suitable to me.

    Of course there was a time when an entire workforce would walk out because the temperature was 1 degree too low, one of the reasons manufacturing in general has moved out of the UK.

  19. MG Motor UK Ltd can’t be doing much since a brief perusal of their 2010 accounts show they only turned over £11.4m. That’s not much for a car ‘manufacturer’. Incidentally, they made a loss of £0.4m with 84 employees.

    I really wish them well but it’s certainly a strange business model…

  20. I think its a fair perspective written by people who have driven the 6 and its competitors. Just because it doesn’t flatter, doesn’t mean its true.

  21. “…even if MG never made a profit in Europe, it would still be a worthwhile investment as a way of legitimizing the brand in China and other developing countries.”

    – a succinct and accurate summary of SAIC’s strategy, I’d say – and who can blame them? I do wish them well, though.

    In sheer numbers terms, I’m far more worried about the seemingly precarious situation up at Ellesmere Port, which is in the press again today…

  22. As someone who’s driven quite a few American cars I do find the comments about interior quality and numb steering rather odd. I have NEVER driven an American car with anything other than vague and appalling steering. I cna only assume that the writer has confused vagueness with feeling, the 6 steering is excellent in my experience. Interior quality is at least on a par with some American cars I have driven recently in in some cases pretty far ahead.

    America does love it’s own home grown cars and this alone helps to drive their industry despite turning out some real tat over the years that’s poorly made and unreliable.

    To an outside observer though the whole assembly process in Birmingham makes no sense. I agree with the CHinese conspiracy theory. Europe is massively over producing cars so why should China be interested in that market when it has a strong demand at home? It’s just a shame to see such a half arsed effort in the UK in terms of product range and marketing.

    I might just have to stop commenting on these threads. I want to stand up and be a supportive MG person but it’s virtually impossible in light of the lack of direction, aims and objectives and the pitiful sales figures.

  23. well looking at that and having previously worked there cab 1 aint changed at all ,and when my friends worked with saic they built the mgtfs in near freezing conditions and even had to put polythene round the rest room to keep the cold out ,you can dress it up as much as you like that aint no ckd operation and if they bothered to tell you the truth you will find the track has been as static as it is now for months,dont be fooled by the figures of 40 assembly workers either last count was 22 and if painting the factory is there idea of success of which the assembly guys do they live in cloud cuckoo land. its a pisstake and unfortunately guys were all being hoodwinked all led to believe that longbridge is working ,the wage bill alone and the rent must be far more than they sell cars a month so come on lets forget all the nonsense and get saic on here to be open and honest which i very much doubt they will ,

  24. ps dennis

    the reason the employees wont say anything about the working conditions is there scared ,and if you think working by a portable heater in such a cold and damp climate is fair give it a go ,you will soon be one of them claiming sick pay. i no i still do it and yes you can say loads of people will do that but hey ho hopefully if we do eventually get off the starting line they may well have the chance to give it a go ,

  25. @24

    I agree with you about SAIC, the truth seems to evade them at every turn. I really want to back this venture but it’s becoming increasingly difficult…

  26. i hate jappanies cars , for what the people did to some of my uncles in world war two ,but if i had a choice in buying a M G 6 or a british built honda jazz ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,a jazz would be on my yard ,

  27. “the reason the employees wont say anything about the working conditions is there scared ,and if you think working by a portable heater in such a cold and damp climate is fair give it a go ,you will soon be one of them claiming sick pay.”

    Like i said i work mostly outside, no portable heater, but we get rain, snow and wind. When i was still in sixth form i worked part time in a cold room, +5deg and -18, quite cosy with a nice warm hat and coat on.

    There are loads of people at the moment who would happily work beside a portable heater, it’s still a heater.

  28. I think the 3rd photo says it all – in a ‘live’ car factory would the cars on the track be under dust sheets? I think not.
    Whether you like it or not, sometimes you need to see things from a different perspective to appreciate the full picture.

  29. Its spot on. A proper un-emotional analysis of the situation. And master Nut – BMW did design most of the 75 and most of the Engineering associated with the MG6 is Chinese. Just forget MG and Longbridge they are dead. Instead celebrate the real success going on in the rest of the British Motor Industry. Far more relevant.

  30. poorly researched article. No comments from staff to get the otherside of the story.. A poor ‘essay’.

  31. A story that must be right eh? Bollocks,especially the “BMW DESIGNED 75” the author should stick to writing about thier own domestic lard arse carriers aand do some research.

  32. @31

    Well BMW did write the cheques and supply engines, gearboxes, suspension, brakes and most of the electrical system for the 75. OK, “BMW-Based” rather than “BMW-Designed” might have been a better choice of words but the point stands.

  33. My understanding is that aside from supplying many components (economies of scale as perued by all large companies), the main element of 75 design that BMW did have a hand in was insisting on one piece side panels in the name of structural rigidity.

    Their main contribution of BMW was Pischetsrieder undermining the launch with extrordinarily unwise and naive comments….

  34. I didn’t realise how little was put together of the MG6 in the UK.
    If it is just a gearbox and a grille, then it seems more like a token effort at keeping a UK factory churning over than any attempt at a full scale manufacturing base.
    What a shame.

  35. saic are a waste of space i will never trust them until they build a body and engine plant and have a proper manufacturing plant.Thats why so many peole on this foram want rover back.COME ON JAGUAR/LAND ROVER BRING IT BACK NOW!!!

  36. In my opinion LB will only ever be now a CKD centre from now on, MG is years away from ever been accepted as choice for buyers in the future. Question if you had the money would you want to invest in a MG Franchise? Not me….

  37. Did anyone ever believe what Bush or Rumsfeld ever said?this article reinforces the point.And the point someone earlier made re:scared of loosing thier jobs-who isnt?

  38. I agree with Paul (29). I think we’ve been looking at this as a rebirth of MGR whereas is reality that is long gone.

    This new venture should be seen as a toe in the water by a brand new entrant to the UK who just happens to lease a factory and use a badge with heritage. There are no other links despite what their misleading PR claims.

    I could cry but the truth is the truth.

  39. I have said before,the chinese are playing the long game,ok they do a few stuff ups on the line and sell a few,they are not doing it to be charitable are they?they are not assembling a few MG6’s to fool anyone.There is enough people on here knocking the firm at every turn,MG is chinese owned as is volvo,The 6 is MG- the firm first stand alone im an MG in a long time,not some re-heated montego or whatever,until the gates shut at longbridge people should support the outfit?someone visiting this site,maybe a potential customer would be overjoyed about some of the comments on here sometimes.

  40. Maybe if the 6 was about £ 3000 cheaper with a better engine and a diesel option then it would do far better. £ 16,000 isn’t very impressive for a car that is priced like a Mondeo but has an engine and an interior like a nineties Hyundai. I would like the MG6 to succeed, but the strategy is totally wrong.

  41. As someone who is very patriotic I thought long and hard about saying anything about this.

    My theory is we have gone from a proud manufacturing nation, producing inovative products that everyone wanted, to a nation strangled by unions, to a nation that appears to be selling off the family silver and is grateful for any scraps off the Chinese dinner table. It is clear that being British, or being associated with anything British is still perceived as cool and IMO is the only reason why SAIC are even bothering with Longbridge. Shame on the Labour government for letting this happen.

    As a long term supporter of MGR/AR/BL/BMC I would not feel the same about driving one of these new cars as I did about my MG ZS when I bought it brand new in 2004. Sure, it was a Honda designed car but it was made in Britain by a British company. Being part designed in Britain, and shipped over from China to be finished is not the same, and smells like what Britain used to do when sending BMC products over to the Commonwealth years ago.

    You can knock the yanks all you like, but when their car industry was threatened they moved to protect it, and their workers. Yes, there were redundancies, yes there was consolidation but a couple of years on and they are still churning out cars and the latest sales figures in the US for domestic cars are much higher compared to the previous figures.

  42. “The 6 is MG- the firm first stand alone im an MG in a long time,not some re-heated montego or whatever”

    But it IS a reheated rong-way 550, surely thats even worse than a worked over montego?
    At least the monty was made by the same company who took over austin, mg etc.
    The 550 is just cheap chinese mass transport that we are now supposed to love coz its got a £3.50 mg badge on the front and back.

  43. @46 ok fair point,but we dont sell the roewe here or CKD them,its MGUK and the 6 for this-dare i say uk market,the 550 almost looks like an honda cheap or not.An ipad is made in china,designed in california,costs piss all to make and is upwards of £400,the MG6 was designed here,made in china and is still a cheap car,look at a fiesta starting at £9k -a MG6 is still a lot of car for cheap money,but its the chinese car thing again,if it was belgian built it would be good first effort i bet.

  44. C’mon guys, this is journalism. What’s getting a few facts wrong got to do with it?
    I don’t know who said it but someone came up with: “if you want to know what’s going on in your own country read some one else’s press”. That’s as true for Syria, Egypt, China and the US as it is for us! Sift the info.
    Overall the primary reason for Longbridge and “designed in UK” probably is to legitimise the overseas selling point for the Chinese market.
    ‘Good’ article, giving an ‘alternative’ view.

  45. “Overall the primary reason for Longbridge and “designed in UK” probably is to legitimise the overseas selling point for the Chinese market.”

    If they just wanted it for the ‘designed in the UK’ kudos then a couple of industrial units would be enough.

    I agree that being able to say you have a design team in the UK is a good selling point overseas, however they don’t need what is still a vast factory to do that. I still think they obviously have plans for the site, playing the Long Game as Francis puts it. Why else bother spending money painting and decorating a plant if they don’t plan on bringing it into use at some point.

  46. Sad, but not surprising, MG Rover has been kicked about for years. BAE couldn’t be bothered to invest anything, BMW completely mismanaged the brand, and then there was the phonix four, whose only concern was getting away with as much loot as possible before the company died.

    It is is good that there are serveral hundred jobs in design and screwing on the odd grill here.However, lets not kid ourselves, this is a long way from being a true mass market car company. It doesn’t use any british suppliers, makes a minimum contribution to our balance of trade and local companies. TATA had a bigger presense here with their deisgn and technology centre before they bought JLR.

    It is just sad to how far this country has fallen. A country that use to have the second biggest car industry in the world, imports 80% of its cars.

  47. “then there was the phonix four, whose only concern was getting away with as much loot as possible before the company died.”

    I think we all know that’s not strictly true, if that’s all they wanted then they could have “got away with much more loot” but just shutting up shop and selling everything off then pocket the cash.

    “It doesn’t use any british suppliers”
    I don’t know, they’ve been painting the inside of the factory, they must have bought all that paint somewhere. :p

  48. @51

    “It is just sad to how far this country has fallen. A country that use to have the second biggest car industry in the world, imports 80% of its cars.”

    That stistic tells little of the story. We used to have a greater percentage of the world car industry for two main reasons, firstly our industrialisation was some years ahead of our competitor countries and it was always inevitable that they would catch up and secondly we had the remnants of an empire who had little choice but to buy goods from us. Even latterly the brand loyalty that such familiarity generated was a factor but that will always disipate in the end as the available choice becomes wider.

    Also, let us not forget that we are exporting more cars now than we have ever done, but, do we really want even more low skill industrial jobs? The job of good government is surely to steer the economy towards better paid higher skilled jobs thereby increasing everybody’s standard of living. The difficult bit is managing the transition…

  49. @53 robots do the lions share of the work now i suppose,but lets face it,no government in decades have helped industry in the U.K. only hedge funds,asset strippers and venture capitalists are helped.The pigs come in,ship the place to a low pay country or sell assets.What are low skill industrial jobs?are they the jobs that pay the bills?we dont need anymore call/customer experiance centres do we? There are not many better higher skilled jobs out there,hardly any apprenticeships-certainly not enough to go round,we have colleges week in week out begging us to take the kids on,sorry pal this country is on its arse.

  50. @55 if Robots did do all the work do you think JLR and NIssan etc would pay thousands of humans to turn up every day? I think not. Robots weld and partially paint…end of .

  51. @55 as for the country on its arse thing I agree. However, if the average Brit cared they would insist on buying British, that would create demand for British goods which would become more affordable as competition ensued within Britain to win the British buying British customers. In the same way that globally things kind of work on balance, ie. there’s always someone wanting something off someone else for a certain price, this could apply as a kind of macro-economic principle in Britain alone. After all, we have the ability to meet most of our own domestic needs if we really needed to do it, we just don’t seem to have the will. In terms of the car industry, we do make a lot of cars, and we export most of them which means our own people prefer to buy overseas models. So we haven’t really won anything at all. What would be ideal, is that our own people wanted our cars as much as the overseas customers, this would make us a net contributor to the industry rather than a net consumer. There are so many socio-econmic reasons that Britain is in the state it is that it’s too long to list, some contradict each other – but then we are a nation of contradictions and double standards)f but some of my main ones are: 1) we are arrogant as a nation and now view manual work with disdain (hence fewer and fewer are prepared to do it) 2) we think we are worth more than we are yet think others are worth less (resulting in expecting large pay packets but cheap goods – the two things do not mix domestically which is why we buy most things foreign) 3) we remain agonisingly apologetic and ashamed of our empirical past which means we are incredibly unpatriotic to the point of almost inverted racism to our own kind for fear of appearing the opposite (what the hell is wrong with wanting the best for British people?)

  52. I’m looking forward to the Geely launch later this year. I would assume that they actually want to sell cars here rather than use them as some sort of weird home marketing exercise. Perhaps then we will have something to compare the MG effort with, i.e. marketing/quality/price/sales results etc.

    For what it’s worth I thought the 6 drove and steered well and that the interior was OK. It is overpriced to sell in any volume though. Shame.

    PS Anyone know how many Great Wall pick ups have been sold here?

  53. Thankfully MG Motor will be selling around the world, not just the UK.

    The Chinese do what they’re going to do at their own pace, but when they say they’ll do it, they mean it.

    For someone who grow up in the Midlands, to go back and see a part of Longbridge still designing and making cars, when it looked like it was gone, is so encouraging.

    It is a mostly fair article, albeit with some factual inaccuracies and some weird comments about steering and handling (not enough squealing tyres when the MG6 goes round a corner?).

    Not a very good magazine though, Car and Driver, or maybe it was the cars inside it when I looked at a copy all those years ago. Pity MG Rover couldn’t have had a 60bn dollar cash injection like Chrysler and GM.

    I’ll be buying an MG Motor MG. It’s part assembled at Longbridge by workers some of whom worked for the old company. The cars are part designed/engineered here by ex MG Rover employees. How can there not be any links to the past?! It’s also a properly global company, or will be soon.

    Let’s support it, buy it! And stop shoe gazing and dreaming about a past that’s long gone.

  54. Yeah, lets support em – blow a good chunk of £20k on a car where the company can pull out of UK with about a weeks notice.
    Don’t know about the rest of you but if I were splashing that much cash I’d hope that they would still be around in a couple of years time.
    With every month of dire sales figs I find it harder and harder to even remotely consider supporting this lame duck.
    Those who have bought already must be very brave*

    *there are other words, but will stick with “brave”

  55. @56 it was a blanket term,robots weld,paint and carry,and machinary do the manual handling,as in the JLR plant no dashboard assembly is lifted in by hand,i never once suggested they replaced humans only there is no no back breaking work elf ‘n’ safety and all that.@57 succinctly put as well.

  56. Its negative and probably not unjustly so, but has too many errors to be written by someone who understands design and manufacture of cars. As well as the above issues, he correctly describes the MG6 assembly process and correctly names CKD. However the MG6 is very far from CKD (which in its true meaning is a complete box of bits of the final car), its a partial assembly operation, with finished and trimed bodies arriving requiring to be mated with essentially just the power train.

  57. “However the MG6 is very far from CKD (which in its true meaning is a complete box of bits of the final car), its a partial assembly operation, with finished and trimed bodies arriving requiring to be mated with essentially just the power train.”

    Isn’t that how most CKD operations are run these days? I mean the whole point of CKD is simply to bypass local import laws. Some require a completely stripped and flattened car, others (like the UK presumably) just require key parts to be missing at point of import.

    But really if you take CKD to the strictest form, ie. a flat pack. Then ALL car plants these days just build CKD kits, Cowley for example, they bring in panels from Swindon, and engines from Hams hall, this from there, that from here and stick it all together.

    None of them are like the old days of Dagenham or Longbridge where raw materials came in one end and cars out the other. They’re just assembly plants rather than Factories.

    CKD may stand for Completely Knocked Down, however as with many terms they become adopted for lesser activities, i mean i have just put the Hoover away, but it’s actually a Numatic Henry.

  58. “Also, let us not forget that we are exporting more cars now than we have ever done, but, do we really want even more low skill industrial jobs? The job of good government is surely to steer the economy towards better paid higher skilled jobs thereby increasing everybody’s standard of living. The difficult bit is managing the transition…”

    Everyone is producing and exporting more, because of productivity gains. It is our percentage share of any market that matters.

    Now I have heard that argument about getting out of low value sectors before. It may apply to textiles, but jobs in car manufacture and supply tend to be relatively better paid.

    We also need more manufacturing jobs for one simple reason, we run a massive trade deficit. Even adding so call invisibles to our exports, such as financial services, still leaves a huge grap. There is no such thing as a post industrial economy, we still need industrial goods, and at the moment we are importing goods that in the long term we can’t pay for.

    Part of the reason for this, is unlike the French, and Germans, we let our mass market car maker go under. Partly the fault of the unions, partly the fault of incompetent management, and partly the fault of years of underinvestment. If you don’t give engineers reliable funding over the long term to develope new products you end up with the stop start ill thought out product development we saw at BL.

    ““then there was the phonix four, whose only concern was getting away with as much loot as possible before the company died.”

    I think we all know that’s not strictly true, if that’s all they wanted then they could have “got away with much more loot” but just shutting up shop and selling everything off then pocket the cash.”

    Oh I’m sure that they would have liked the company to keep going, but they did very nicely out of the collapse. If they had spent half the time and effort they put into financial engineering into real engineering. Then MG/Rover might have stood more of a chance.

  59. @64 i agree,and the only reason Renault has never gone under is because it is state owned,imagine the political bomb going off if it was allowed years ago?the fact is the company was stolen from renault when he was imprisoned by the state (off topic again!)this is what riles me about spineless,scared of europe politicians that really dont want to fight our corner as regards industry,look at USA,Germany and france-and look at us about to let bombardier close shop all because of european competition/tender laws.How many trains have france or germany bought off us?in japan,by law,you can only have domestic built rolling stock.The people we vote for dont want industry im afraid.But thank god we have a growing car industry.

  60. “do we really want even more low skill industrial jobs”

    I’m not sure the majority of car manufacturing jobs are what i’d call “highly skilled”, as i understand it an operative is trained to carry out a short assembly sequence, which might simply be putting a seat in and bolting it down using an air or electric wrench with a pre-set torque limiter. I think operatives are sometimes trained to carry out more than one operation, so that they can be more flexible in where on the line they’re deployed. It’s not like Morgan where one man builds the whole car, one man just spends all day fitting seats, then the next bloke down the track spends all day fitting doors etc etc.

  61. “the fact is the company was stolen from renault when he was imprisoned by the state”

    Well i think he was imprisoned after being found guilty for collaborating with the Nazi regime, so not really stolen.

    “How many trains have france or germany bought off us?”
    Eurotunnel run a fleet of about 58 Class 9 Shuttle Locos, built by Brush Traction in Loughborough, SNCF also ran a fleet of Class 92 freight Loco’s, DB Schenker (german rail) also run a fleet of Class 92’s, also built by Brush traction. France’s original TGV, used a whole lot of input from British engineering companies in its design and construction. Fact is though the French have a far superior rail service than we do, and the TGV held the record for travelling at over 300mph, when the fastest thing BR had was only doing 125mph (1mph slower than the Mallard set as the steam speed record!), i’m not sure there is a whole lot of reasons for SNCF for example to buy from us. Last year we heard all about a contract to buy trains from Siemens, instead of Bombardier. Bombardier are a Canadian company. So it was a choice of a Canadian Company with assets in the UK or a German Company with Assets in the UK….
    Trouble is our Railway’s were bankrupt long before the second world war and never really moved on.

  62. Replying to Comment 50: It sounds to me like Longbridge IS currently being used like just a “couple of industrial units”. Oh, and I did say “PROBABLY”.

    I think BMW bought the best 4-wheel drive technology and got Rover with it. They decided to give Rover a go but, for whatever reason, it didn’t work. In a kind of similar way, the Chinese have Longbridge.

    Right now, I believe they do like the UK link but PRIMARILY for their home marketing (a market which will surely dwarf Europe, never mind the UK). I never said they couldn’t or wouldn’t expand into (even) full-production, but the circumstances would have to be right. Equally, given the current level of production, marketing and interest, they could – more easily – just pull out.
    Without inside info you’ve got to say the future of Longbridge is in the balance. For now they have all they need. Maybe not “want” or “hope for”, or “plan for” but “NEED”.
    Painting and decorating isn’t a massive capital investment, nor is it a sure sign of any positive strategy. It’s often what you do as job creation with an underemployed workforce. Been there, done that, got the redundancy to back it up.
    What I hope is, that they can start making cars there. Big time. But the Yank article – well it does give a not often expressed view. And I appreciate it FOR THAT ALONE. However I would put the level of journalism (crappy as it is) well above that of Clarkson.

    Comments 64 and 65 (and a nod at 57) and loads of others – another significant reason for no UK owned car industry is our reluctance to support our own. I worked for a multi-nat with a German manager who insisted ALL company vehicles were British. It was the way they were brought up. He would have bought German in Germany, British in Britain, etc., etc. They support the place that supports them. The French had that chauvanistic attitude too, although more likely to be: buy French everywhere!. It is a major reason why their industries survived where ours collapsed. From top to bottom we bought foreign. Mind you, that attitude is changing as more and more Germans, French, etc. are buying foreign too. I wonder what changed for them, culturally, across the generations.

  63. There’s been enough cheap badge engineered crap sold to the Americans over the years, and Americans have no taste, I think it’s a positive that our cousins are of this opinion

  64. “Replying to Comment 50: It sounds to me like Longbridge IS currently being used like just a “couple of industrial units”. Oh, and I did say “PROBABLY””

    My point is though, a couple of small industrial units would be far far cheaper to operate. For something the size of Longbridge you pay a small fortune in business rates every week it’s running.

    They wouldn’t be hanging onto Longbridge and paying probably a million or so pounds a year in rates unless they had a plan for it. I mean they could just pay a few thousand in rates on a couple of industrial units and still benefit from the same UK connection in their home market.

  65. 67 – Dennis, I don’t know how much you know about train building but the point is, Bombardier assembles trains atDerby works, employing thousands of people (not like MG!) whereas Siemens builds them in Germany.

    I don’t really think the best ‘rail service’ in the world has to do with train building or engineering directly. The HST and other trains that were British designs had excellent engineering and many are still in use today. Pity it was all lost – mostly as a result of Major’s administration selling off British Rail Engineering to a consortium led by ABB, which after a series of takeovers, ceased to build trains in the UK.

  66. To para-phrase John Cleese.

    Bereft of life, ‘MG rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘MG to the perch ‘MG’d be pushing up the daisies!

    ‘MG’s metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘MG’s off the twig!

    ‘MG’s kicked the bucket, ‘MG’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!!

    It’s been 7 years, the Chinese have yet to sell a volume car in Europe or the US. Unless they make them LADA/ Moskvich / Yugo cheap it isn’t happening.

    As a Brit living overseas, way too many better cars out there including the new Jags, Minis, Range Rovers and such.

    Great site by the way, however beware the rose tinted glasses “nostalgia isn’t what it used to be”.

  67. as ive stated before ,looking at longbridge it hasnt changed from the day i left the building in 2005.the design block was always there and yes they spent a bit of money to do it up but the cab is derelict it is exactly the same as the fateful day it closed and as for the painting that is just to make it press friendly ,behind them big flags there is nothing , ask them to show you around the former offices in the cabs or the canteen areas on the former rover 25 side then you will see how run down it is .the top end of the paint shop0 is the only part used and it would take millions to bring the whole former paint shop into a production level, they obviously have a plan but what ever it is it is not long term, if the mg 3/5or nething else came to longbridge where would they build it ,no room at the inn in cab 1 and the cvb building is more like something out of a war scene shameful but true ,how do i no cos i have family still there holding on for some hope –

  68. @67 didnt british traction close 1996? im not on about the past its the here and now,and did renault really coolaborate with the nazis?

  69. Brush Traction are still going, A loco arrived back from rebuild there on a lorry only last month. Well you asked how many trains the French and Germans have bought from us, not how many they bought today.

    Well Renault was found guilty of collaboration, so i would say he did yes. Peugeot and Citroen weren’t indicted so i would assume it wasn’t some grand plot to steal car companies by the government.

  70. @75 loius renault was never charged or tried for collaboration and he was found guilty of collaboration after his death by the french government which just means as much as being pardoned after your death.And i beg your pardon as regards BRUSH traction,i was indeed referring to british traction that was defunct in ’96.The french government effectively stole the renault empire when they jailed him without trial or charge-a civilised syria of the past eh?

  71. Those photos say it all, and if the workers dared say anything to the press, they would have been sacked, plain & simple. Perhaps the staff at Longbridge might be wise moving to Ellesmere Port? At least they would still probably have a job in a couple of years. It is doubtful Longbridge will see out 2012 with current sales figures. Nobody wants the 6. It is too expensive for a 95% built Chinese car with an engine from the 1980s

  72. Brush Traction are a shadow of their former selves Dennis. They are still crowing on their website about stuff they’ve done several years ago now. Not really much future for them really. All the rolling stock is now bought from overseas, with all backup done by the manufacturer, such as Siemens Rail and Hitachi, and GM/GE. The HST stock they have relied on for work refurbing will be scrapped before long, and the Class 57 ‘Bodysnatchers’ can’t last forever

  73. “And i beg your pardon as regards BRUSH traction,i was indeed referring to british traction that was defunct in ’96.”

    Well i did wonder if you’d made a typing error so i’d Googled British Traction. It came up with “British Electrical Traction”, who were Brush Traction’s parent company until 1996, they got into train building when they bought Brush in the first place.

    “Brush Traction are a shadow of their former selves Dennis”

    You can say the same about GM an Ford too though. Both have shrunk dramatically over the past few years. Although i can see where you’re coming from.

    “The french government effectively stole the renault empire when they jailed him without trial or charge-a civilised syria of the past eh?”

    Well actually i suppose if he’d been supplying the Nazi’s with Renault cars then it could be argued he’d been doing a lot for the allied war effort…
    If he was found guilty by a court of his peers then it is indeed the same as a posthumous pardon, France has legal system not too different from our own and he was still found guilty, so guilty he was.

    Seriously though, Citroen and Peugeot (the other half of France’s motor industry) has received just as much government backing over the years. While the Peugeot family have remained in charge at PSA, the majority of the shares in the company have been owned by the government at some time or another. As i understand it when Citroen went bust, the government organised the Shotgun wedding with Peugeot to protect Michelin. Not too different to the HBOS/Lloyds merger.

    I agree with your underlying point about other national governments supporting their indigenous industries while our own government hasn’t, however i don’t really see why you needed to go off on one of your rants. About companies being stolen and asking how many of something irrelevant to cars another nation has bought. You then seemed to start trying to change the course of the discussion to fit your argument.

  74. It’s interesting that I can’t see a single SAIC car parked outside the “UK Technical Centre”. It would seem that even the staff that contribute to SAIC’s designs in the UK spend their own money on something else…

  75. “It’s interesting that I can’t see a single SAIC car parked outside the “UK Technical Centre”. It would seem that even the staff that contribute to SAIC’s designs in the UK spend their own money on something else…”

    I dare say at least half of the cars parked outside are Diesels (which MG don’t yet have).
    Of course you could take your point further, a British based design centre and only one British assembled car in the car park. There are at least 4 German ones though.
    To be fair they do only have the choice of one model from the SAIC stable in the UK (the MG6) as that’s the only one they currently sell here.
    Even back in the Rover days though, there was a fair proportion of the employees drove other brands, despite getting a massive discount on a new Rover (and the parts to maintain it)

  76. @79 dennis dennis,we were getting along so well!,i know you want to be the 1st to 1000 comments but cool your jets! i wasnt ranting at at,i was making comparisons to how our govt help industry and how other countries help thiers,im passionate about whats left of our industry whereas you will just write about it when its all gone tits up and say such is life,(without glee i may add)”give them the buuter and they wont take the cow”thats what louis renault said because he didnt want his renault empire expropiated to germany-the plant or the workers,he was imprisoned on the very thinest of evidence without charge or trial and died in custody,reference it at will ive read the book.In a way dennis we are alike,we like to be right and think/know ourselves to be full of knowledge,its its easy to use the word rant when you yourself are on thin ice of the argument.No trial+no charge+unlawful imprisonment=abuse of law.Back on topic i hpoe MGUK do really well.

  77. I think this is a typical pile of donkey written by a self oppionated idiot of a journalist. Not because of what he says but how he says it.

    Is the MG6 technicaly a Chinese designed car, being a worked over Roewe 550. This was co-designed with help from Ricardo, who also re-worked the K series engine – and who are they? A British Company. Not only this, a large part of the work was that already completed previously by MGR as the RDX60! So how much is Chinese?

    The manufacturing comments are probably fair, as it seems a complete waste of time and energy to just fit engines and trim to an already completed car? And then his comments about it being not a great drive – I find this funny as every review I have read so far is pretty good about the handling.

    No, This guy is wearing tinted glasses, a good old commie hating cold war pair he picked up from an army surpless store!

    I think he has missed the point entirely of SAICs investment in Longbridge. SAIC need a european base to attack the market when they are ready, need the design input from a country that produces the best design engineers in the business, and need the british link to sell the cars to their home market.

  78. @ daveh 82

    I think this is one of the more annoying consequences of the lack of profile of MG in Europe at the minute. A lot of the design work for current and future cars coming from SAIC, wther they be Roewe or MG, have a lot of UK input and it is not being shouted loud enough.

  79. I think at the moment,SAIC are just waiting for the euro house of cards to fall before they start making any serious attempt at europe,china has practically bailed out the USA-bonds etc and has gone on record and said europe has got itself into this mess all by itself,im no economist but the euro will end up in freefall you cannot have a single currency without states united.Once everyone is broke an inoffensive MG3/5 would look a good package i reckon be it the current models or a generation on from the current design.

  80. One thing that never gets mentioned in the arguement over the merits of Bombardier versus Siemans is the Siemens employ already over 15,000 people in the UK they have just spent tens of millions of pounds on their Lincoln plant and just this last week secured a big contract to service generating turbines there and are going to invest millions in a new wind turbine plant in Hull and create 700 jobs at the plant with many more in the supply chain.
    Yes MG don’t have a big operation in Longbridge but they have provided jobs how many have Kia or Hyundai provided they shifted some product in the UK on the back of the goverment backed scrappage scheme which helped kickstart the Korean motor industry and help build an even bigger gap in our balance of payments, This scheme was very successful in Germany and France because they bought product built in those countries thus helping their economies directly so the lesson is we should start to support the British motor industry provide jobs here in the UK and take pride like the Germans do in what we make, the rest of the world is starting to take notice that we do build good cars.

  81. “We’ll exclude a handful of sales of a Chinese pickup truck in western Australia, because Perth doesn’t count as the western world.”

    What an absolute tool this author is, he / she is presenting unresearched garble as absolute fact….. “A handful of sales” actually equates to about 25,000 so far and the brand he allures to is Great Wall. These sales are numbers MG U.K can only dream of at the moment. Great Wall vehicles are also sold nationwide here in Australia, not just W.A. Furthermore, W.A is part of Australia, which IS part of the western world, in fact it is a rare part of the western world that is NOT suffering from financial crisis at the moment…….

    Australia now has 3 major Chinese brands all competing for our hard earned at the bottom end of the market; Great wall, which does not sell in handfuls, unless your hand is bigger than say God’s, Chery which are absolute abominations but some people still think it is worth risking their lives for a paltry $10,990 for the little hatch they have. Last but most definitely least we have Geely, which is so bad that it is only permitted to be sold in WA at this point in time because it lacks the safety equipment necessary to be sold in any other state at this point in time.

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