News : MG Motor UK makes it official…

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Longbridge

MG has finally curbed the rumours and announced that it will stop assembling – finishing – cars at its Longbridge plant, despite a year-on-year sales rise of 18 per cent, and within weeks of the launch of its new crossover, the MG GS

MG’s parent company, SAIC Motor, was shipping-in part-built vehicles for completion at the Longbridge plant – although it’s unclear when this stopped, with some reports saying that MG hadn’t actually ‘completed’ a single car there since 2014. Cars will no longer pass through the MG factory for ‘final assembly’ and fully-built cars ready for sale will land straight in from China.

Following a cost-cutting drive, this process will ‘no longer be required’, despite increased sales of 18 per cent year-on-year and a 130 per cent increase in market share. The company has confirmed there will be 25 job losses as a result, but sales, marketing and after-sales operations will remain at the plant.

The announcement comes only five years after the production line was reopened, some 16 years since the last new MG (the MG TF) began production in the West Midlands. More than 400 Designers, Engineers and other staff employed at the SAIC Motor Technical Centre (SMTC) site are not affected. The two models which are currently sold in the UK were designed in this facility, the MG3 and the GS SUV.

Where possible, production staff would be moved into new roles, a spokeman for MG has confirmed. The Labour MP for Birmingham Northfield, Richard Burden, has criticised the decision, labelling the announcement as ‘hugely disappointing and premature.’

The Government are apparently willing to meet MG to discuss options. However, quite how sales will be affected now that cars are no longer assembled in the UK remains to be seen.

Well? Looks okay doesn't it? The soon to be launched MG GS is over here undergoing extensive proving and engineering programmes. Enticing walk in customers will help improve brand credibility and concept sell this very important all new model.

78 Comments

  1. So what happens to the buildings, plant and equipment? Anyone want some assembly facilities? (JLR?)

    Did the MG SV post date the TF in production, hence being the “last new MG”?

    • The plant doesn’t belong to SAIC/MG but is leased from a developer, St Modwen who MGR sold it to in its final years as cash began to dry up. A quick look on St Modwen’s website shows what they can now do with it – the rest of the Longbridge site is a mix of retail and residential.

      Would be nice, of course, if a real car manufacturer like JLR could use it. Despite recent developments at Solihull and Wolverhampton, their plants seem to be bursting at the seams and they are looking to accommodate high-volume models such as a B-segment SUV.

        • Hardly a rumour. JLR are asking for permission to expand the R&D base. It’s not straightforward however as it creeps onto green belt.

          The recent surge in growth means the company has seen people spread all over the place and space has been tight for some time for a lot of them. Phase 2 of the engine plant near Wolverhampton will give the company some spare capacity but that’s a short/medium term fix. When the additional capacity in Europe (contract assembly and own-site) comes online this will be a big help for the firm.

          As for MG, it’s only fit for classroom textbooks on how to drive a company into the ground. Anyone who believes Cheyne’s pathetic excuses about ‘Brexit’ is a fool.

  2. The facade that Longbridge was a proper assembly line is finally over.

    Sad for the individuals who lost their jobs, but 25 is a minuscule number and shows how little they actually did there.

  3. I can only imagine that anyone with any sense at Longbridge, whether in design or development, will be looking elsewhere. This very sad farce looks to be approaching its final chapter.

  4. I don’t think anyone is surprised at this news. There doesn’t seem to be an overall strategy, the sales and promotion side seems hopeless and now down to a 2 model lineup with not a lot of choice of engine’s. Who really goes out of their way to buy a brand new MG these days? Unfortunately, an irrevelant brand in the new car market these days. A sad ending for what was once Europe’s biggest car factory. RIP Longbridge.

  5. It was always a flawed business model, importing the components and assembling them at Longbridge. No other modern manufacturer would make cars like this.

    Very sad news, though, for the 25 workers that have been made redundant and also that yet another Longbridge revival has failed.

    • Spot on with your assessment there, sir. Like most folk I was desperate to see MG succeed but it always seemed a rather half-hearted attempt. The MG6 was reasonable first attempt but it should have arrived with a Diesel engine. By the time it did it was a case of too little, too late.

      The long-promised MG5 never showed, the MG3 was actually a decent little car let down by a lack of decent advertising and brand awareness and the same thing could be levelled at the MGCS – I mean compare the ads from say VW and Ford with MG’s.

      I suspect that the excuses will say Brexit but the simple fact was it always came across as a rather half-hearted attempt. My thoughts go to those affected by the job losses…

  6. I wonder how long they will keep the engineering facility open with the assembly plant gone – if it stays in the UK, it can be moved onto any industrial estate.

    On the good news, let’s hope JLR getting planning permission to expand Whitley, I hope the NIMBYs at Bagington, who have blocked all the developments in recent years at Bagington Airport and are already making noises against this, lose.

    The fact is that both Bagington and Whitley go back over 70 years as industrial facilities starting as aircraft factories and then transfering over to car manufacturing Whitley going to Chrysler and both Alvis and Chrysler over time have sites at Bagington as well as Coventry airport. So my view is, if you buy a house in Bagington, you can’t get upset at a little bit of aircraft and factory noise and traffic.

    By the way, I grew up next to Bagington and never had issues with aircraft noise even when it was a Vulcan making the ground shake at the annual airshow, nor for that matter a Scorpion tank being blatted around the Alvis Test Track.

    • This is nothing to do with Brexit. Let’s be honest – a range of bland cars that offer absolutely nothing distinctive in the marketplace. That, coupled with ridiculous and half-hearted marketing, have lead to a complete lack of buyers. The daft pretence of ‘making’ cars in Longbridge was too expensive with the resulting tiny volumes.

  7. It appears that “production” stopped in 2014, which makes one wonder how old some “new” MG6s are and what the 25 workers have been doing since then (MG3 late configuration?).

    Anyone got the chassis number of the last off the line, presumably an MG6, since it might be a future collectable? I wonder if that guy from Ineos looking at doing a Defender clone is looking for an assembly facility?

  8. A loss of 25 jobs is very sad, but this has been a pretence from the very start and it’s good that they have now come clean about their UK “manufacture” and that this is just another importer now.

    • Good luck with getting that changed! At least no one can be mislead into thinking that it’s anything other than a Chinese car anymore.

      • It’s got a 400 person R&D centre here, on the Longbridge site, so it can lay some claim to ‘Britishness’. And the head count there has grown. At least the Chinese have put something into the brand. Without them it would be gone completely.

        Tired of the anti-Chinese tone on this website. Is SAIC really a ‘laughable company’?

        • I’m talking about MG Motor UK when I refer to a “laughable company” and the cap certainly fits. I’m not anti-Chinese (I am very impressed with the job Geely have done with Volvo, I’m typing this on a laptop made by a Chinese firm) but what I am against is the utterly inept way MG have been managed in this country (by largely British managers). Why must anything against MG Motor UK be dismissed as racist or anti-Chinese? If these managers here were any good at what they did MG assembly could have expanded rather than ended.

          Any number of companies have UK engineering facilities and we seldom see pieces on them. Ford have large scale facilities and even Changan. We also don’t get a huge amount on Nissan who design, engineer and build many of their cars here. Where’s the story on the recently unveilled and British-built Honda Civic as another example?

        • It’s got 2000 people doing R&D in China. Those 400 heads in Birmingham include HR, cleaning staff and everyone else. The actual R&D staff headcount is somewhat lower. It’s less than 20% British input, being kind.

        • And, in turn, I’m tired of the way that any criticism of SAIC/MG is automatically interpreted as being “anti-Chinese”. The problems that I have with SAIC/MG are as follows:

          1. The British input in these cars has been exaggerated beyond all credibility. From taking a selection of already built cars and then parking them in a row in the “factory” and pretending it was an assembly line for one of their early publicity shots, to marketing them as “Beautifully British”.

          2. It was the clever negotiating skills of Nanjing/SAIC that finally drove MG Rover to the wall. Okay, they were going to go bust anyway but it meant that, rather than form a partnership with them, they were able to pick up the most valuable parts of MG Rover for next to nothing. To then see them as some kind of saviour of MG is a little odd.

          3. When there is so much going on in the British motor industry, even insignificant news SAIC/MG can drown out everything else on this site. Land Rover will be launching their new Disco on Wednesday, yet a relatively small number of redundancies at a meaningless finishing operation utterly overwhelm the Comments section. What is it about “MG” that overwhelms everything else here?

    • I would like to see coverage of MG Motor continue here. This website now needs to call MG to account for their poor performance and the terrible decision-making. Now that the limited assembly and the carrot of future assembly is no longer dangling, there is nothing left to support so the writers here should no longer hold back.

  9. Sad news for the 25 people being laid off…

    It’s a shame they did not turn the knife to the marketing department as they have been absolutely bloody useless.

  10. Now that the pretence of English assembly has been dropped, will SAIC-MG be honest enough to change the VIN numbers of their vehicles to reflect their Chinese heritage?

    And if SAIC-MG-UK was so committed to the UK market, then why not keep those cast-adrift 25 ‘assembly’ staff on to check and rectify the cars which land from China? This is how Honda started in the UK: by ensuring top-draw quality and taking customers’ issues seriously by forensically investigating intermittent issues and failures. That’s the way to build a brand.

    Sadly, I don’t think SAIC-MG-UK are all that committed to retailing quality cars and building a reputable brand.

    • If MG was committed to retailing in the UK, then parts would not be on back-order. Dealers would not be having arguments over warranty work, or just refusing to do it anymore. There would be a real focus on service and the customer journey. Staff would be trained and encouraged to develop their skills. The small number of cars would be so thoroughly PDI’d every customer would be showing them off.

      Look at what’s going on instead – it’s utterly shambolic.

      • I’ve been reading a lot of tales of woe lately. Anybody with pride and integrity would burst a gut to resolve customer problems to try and smooth over situations. The congenital incompetent Cheyne and his merry brand of morons however generally give the impression of not caring at all. Not doing anything, not picking up calls or emails etc.

        There are now a surprisingly large number of unhappy ex-customers out there considering the small number of cars they have sold.

  11. A total charade – it’s clear Longbridge was used as a back door for China to get into the British market and using the MG badge instead of an obscure Chinese one and getting a handful of workers to assemble cars from kits was how SAIC did it. Also a tiny dealer network, almost no product promotion (until this year) and a less than thrilling D-segment car doomed MG. It’s shame, but those of us hoping for MG to be another successful foreign-owned car factory over here were badly let down.

  12. Very sad news, but at the same time, to be expected. I believe production of CKD ceased in early 2014 when the MG3 looked like it was taking off.

    MG are so far adrift of the original 5 year plan dealers saw in 2011, it’s not even funny.
    I had a look through the dealer directory the other day and, from memory, I think there are less than 5 of the original (2008) main dealers still onboard with the franchise. The turnover of dealers is unsustainable. You cannot replace your dealer network every 5 years or so, customers will just walk away from the brand.

    I wish those whose jobs are affected well – I’m sure JLR will benefit from their skills.

  13. Perhaps what MG may do is some specialized fitting of some parts at the port of entry with a contracted company. JLR, BMW and other companies do that at USA ports. In parts it allows for a minor tax break, putting on parts that are US/Canadian specific (sound systems, lights, tires, owners manuals, etc), or to meet certain specific ongoing option demands before dealer deliveries.

      • Thanks for the link to the macdroitwich website. I see a few familiar names fom eher on there.
        Yes it is a little sweary but I’m usually reading this during my lunchbreak at work, so I jaust automatically filter the language out anyway.
        The posters mostly appear to be passionate about their subjects I I will certainly be spending more time ther reading what they have to say…

  14. Yes, thanks for all the Macdroitwich links, there’s nothing like seizing an opportunity for publicity. Shame it’s over 25 jobs.

    I pity Keith. He pushed this last spring on social media, was given a kicking from some idiot at LB who said it was shit-stirring. Then the ultimate indignity happened in the form of the rival weekly rag to the one he runs putting up a front-page story that basically talked of unconfirmed rumours, and that MG had a long and glorious future in the UK.

    Keith did a photoshoot at the Longbridge factory early this year, and – again on social media – said the place was deader than Julius Caesar. No way was production going on, he said. Nor was it ever likely that the place was ‘ramping up’ for the GS, as its then-PR laughingly claimed.

    I, for one, am glad this whole sorry pretence is over and AROnline can finally draw a line under this – dated May 2005.

  15. In line with the comments already posted, my thoughts are with the 25 people who have lost their jobs. Whatever we might think of this news, the numbers involved and MG Motor UK Ltd, at an individual level, these 25 employees will be concerned about the impact of this decision on their own personal life. I wish them well.

    Given that Modwen PLC are likely to be considering other uses for some or all of the Longbridge site they own, I can only hope that two things can emerge from this:

    1. That part of the Longbridge site (i.e such as the Visitor’s Centre and the Q Gate entrance) can still be retained in some form, as part of any planning consent for the rest of the site to be redeveloped, as an asset for the Longbridge community and potentially be used as a heritage centre to tell the history of Longbridge’s 110 year history in vehicle manufacturing, assembly and design.

    2. That legacy assets SAIC received as part of their purchase of the remaining assets of MG Rover Group in July 2005, such as the 5 millionth Rover car, the one-off Rover 75 Coupe, the stillborn RDX60 design concept and production records for pre-administration period vehicles etc., can now be passed into the safe, long-term custodianship of another party such as the British Motor Museum. Clearly such items should be preserved for the benefit of future generations rather than an attempt being made for them to come onto the open market.

    If anyone knows the person at MG Motor UK Ltd to contact on this, please let me have their name and email address and I will certainly ‘start the balling rolling’.

    3. Although less meaningful in the light of what has happened, hopefully MG Motor UK Ltd will continue to frequent part of the Longbridge site for their remaining operations such as sales and marketing, PR activities and even design. After all, it will still mean other businesses in the local community of Longbridge will be supported in some way or another.

    I appreciate this does not add any ‘fuel’ to the other arguments being made, but hopefully some of these ideas from an alternative perspective looking forward, can mean there are one of two minor things that can be salvaged for the benefit of the immediate community and die-hard enthusiasts of the products that came out of Longbridge.

    Just my thoughts…

  16. While this is very sad for the workers concerned, it kind of comes under the “why am I not surprised?” category for me.

    I was always more of a Rover guy than an MG one, so for me April 2005 was pretty much the end; but I seriously considered a 6 as my new daily last Christmas. Stories of chocolate clutches and poor parts supply, plus an 80 mile round trip to the nearest dealer, persuaded my head to rule my heart and I bought an Astra.

    Chinese companies have shown they can do great things, Geely for example. Sadly, SAIC/NAC are not in that league and, with their cynical brinkmanship in 2005, became to many a bunch of vultures and simply shot themselves royally in the foot.

  17. Just to add about Indian-built Micras, they are made in the same factory as the Suzuki Alto and Asian market Swifts, which have very good reputations, and my Micra has been completely faultless. I think cars made in so called third world countries like India or Thailand (Suzuki Celerio) are just as good as anything from Europe or Japan as the factories work to the same quality standards. Indeed, some so-called premium brands now seem to have developed a reputation for poor quality and customer service.

    • Having recently just resigned from working in aftersales at a Nissan dealer, I must disagree there. The amount of rectification work carried out in this country on Indian-Micras must equal the time it took Washington to build a faultless one in the first place. Still, Third World shoddiness is creating jobs over here, so we mustn’t grumble.

  18. I must congratulate Tim Burgess on buying a proper (Ellesmere Port, Cheshire) British-built Vauxhall Astra and not a the Chinese junk built in China with the oil and water put in at Longbridge – British-built MG, my arse.

  19. To be honest, it’s only confirming what a large proportion of us have been saying for the last few years. It always reeked of a lash up and it was only ever going to end up like this.

    I feel sorry for the people who, acting in misguided loyalty to the brand, actually purchased one of these cars. I predict the marque in its current incarnation will disappear within 18 months.

  20. Very disappointing news, but not entirely unexpected. Although 25 job losses is bad enough and I sympathise with those affected, obviously the so-called final assembly/finishing must have been a cottage-size operation.

    I always “dreamt” of buying a new “British-built” MG car (a 6 or whatever else) when Nanjing took over at Longbridge all those years ago. Sadly, I have also lost interest in the brand after reading all the ups and downs of MG UK on AROnline.

    Such a shame that MG Rover could not have been rescued and become a success after 2005, but it’s all over now… As mentioned here, the MG badge now just represents another imported car from the Far East.

  21. Well done M, reference e-mailing SAIC/MG and telling them you will not now buy a MG car. I did the same to Raleigh Industries back in 2002 when they shut the Nottingham factory.

    I’m also very sorry for the people who lost their jobs at Longbridge. Go and try to get a job at Jaguar Land Rover and tell them to bring back Rover and show those turkeys at SAIC how to build a proper British-built car.

  22. It has recently been making me laugh that the laughable Channel 5 series, The Cars That Made Britain Great, have been giving away “the last of the British makes” MG as their prize. The best bit is they stipulate non-metallic colours only. All a bit Bullseye – here’s what you could have won!

  23. Well, again, I haven’t visited AROnline for a while. Keith, I’ve been reading Classic Car Weekly!

    Anyway, to the point. I reckon production (final) hasn’t taken place at Longbridge for a while. When I booked my MG3 in for a service back in June I thought I’d do another factory tour whist I was down at Longbridge. However, I was told these had ceased a while ago. No final assembly equals no factory tour.

    Am I saddened by the news? Well, yes. I wanted to see growth in UK operations, a move beyond just final assembly.

    I still think AROnline could report on the MG3 and GS. I mean, the UK production was only minimal anyway. To me, there is still an MGR link. It’s what resulted from the MGR collapse and design still takes place at LONGBRIDGE.

    The MG UK story mystifies me. Surely, even without any significant new hardware, they could focus more on the MG bit, widen the model range and appeal? I mean, for example, could some UK-only engineering, design, tweaking not give us a slightly sportier 3, a mild sort of MG 3 Zed?

    • Quote: “The MG UK story mystifies me. Surely, even without any significant new hardware, they could focus more on the MG bit, widen the model range and appeal? I mean, for example, could some UK-only engineering, design, tweaking not give us a slightly sportier 3, a mild sort of MG 3 Zed?”

      Yes, it could, quickly and easily, as there are plenty of specialist automotive design consultancies and component manufacturers based in and around the Midlands who specialise in offering these sorts of services.

      Some of them employ former MG Rover Group Design Engineers and also those who worked for their former design consultants. All have the relevant experience and skills to deliver this.

      • In which case, David, it’s even more mysterious. Heavily promoted sporty versions could increase sales markedly. They would also, by focusing on an MG Zed car image, give a greater brand identity to the SAIC MGs. I mean, why oh why did we mot have a sports 6 promoted around the car’s inclusion in BTCC?

        Is SAIC an autocratic parent with little understanding of the UK (and European) market?

    • The problem is that there is no population of cars to create a demand for tweaks. In the days when Downton, Speedwell, Cooper etc. offered their various conversions there were 100s of thousands of Minis, ADO16 etc. to provide a solid base for their products. Now, the derisory numbers of MGs sold would mean that the development costs of the tweaks could never be recovered.

      • I didn’t mean tweaks to MG3s already sold, on the road. Obviously, the numbers here would be tiny. What I meant was to create new versions for sale direct, new from MG UK. Such sportier models would be designed with the help of UK engineering firms, specialists. I’m sure overall sales would increase markedly with a sports derivative on offer.

        Thinking about it, I already know a firm who offers mods to the MG3 located near Chester – John Woods Motorcare. I’m sure their mods get Longbridge approval. I was thinking about getting my 3 warmed over slightly.

        • Dave,

          I think the argument still stands – if virtually nobody bought the MG3 before, there are going to be pretty well zero sales going forward even with a tuned-up version. It seems unlikely an engineering company would get involved in that sort of operation.

          My personal MG spotting tally is 1 MG3, 3 MG6 and zero MG GS.

          I imagine even the die-hard MG enthusiasts on this site who bought one of these products previously are unlikely to buy another following the Longbridge news.

  24. I have to say I’m not surprised, having read the workers stories and the rumours around production at Longbridge, they back up all I had seen.

    I live overlooking the Longbridge site, have done for a long time. At first when SAIC took over you saw the kits coming in on container lorries. Since 2014 they have pretty much dried up.

    I went on the factory tour in 2013 and they claimed we couldn’t go into certain areas of CAB as “we are tooling up for the MG3 and as such the area is off limits. However there was noone to be seen, no kits, no parts, no staff, nothing.

    Back in early 2015 I saw a raft of fully assembled MG6’s roll up on transporters. MG3’s too. If they were still completing Assembly on site I can only assume that they were taking the damn things apart and then rebuilding them!

    Have to say too, I’m a Rover/MG customer. I owned a 400, a 45, ZS which I still own and 75 and had my eye on a MG6 back in 2011. When I went on a test drive, the car broke down (seemingly alternator failure…on a 29 mile car) and my second test drive (I must have been mad) concluded when the handbrake handle snapped when I disengaged it.

    I even test drove a MG3 2 weeks ago which a friend in the trade had in after a part exchange, 2014 model with less than 20k on clock and creaked and rattled more than my grandma getting out of her chair at 94 years old. Incidentally the VIN confirmed it to be wholley Chinese built as I suspected.

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