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.