News : New MG styling chief breezes in from Nissan

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Martin Uhlarik

Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) said it has appointed former Nissan designer Martin Uhlarik as head of its European design centre. SAIC also said it is investing £1.5m ($2.42m, €1.9m) to double the size of the studio in Longbridge.

Canadian-born Uhlarik, 41, replaces British designer Tony Williams-Kenny, who was appointed global design director at SAIC’s design headquarters in Shanghai last year. While at Nissan Uhlarik was responsible for the 2010 restyle of the Qashqai crossover. He also styled the 2003 Evalia concept, as well as the NV200 concept. Before working at Nissan, he was senior interior designer at Volkswagen Group’s Skoda division.

Uhlarik will lead an expanding UK-based design team focusing mainly on MG vehicles, which sell in 35 global markets. His team will also provide input to SAIC Group’s China-only brand, Roewe. The Longbridge studio is based in the former headquarters of MG Rover, which was acquired by SAIC in 2007.

So far the centre has designed and engineered three cars for SAIC’s MG brand – the MG6 medium sedan and hatchback, the MG3 subcompact and the MG5 compact. The MG6 is assembled in Longbridge from semi-knocked down kits shipped from China. The UK is the only European market where MG cars are sold.

An MG spokesman said the brand would move into mainland Europe late in 2013 with sales of the MG6 and MG3. He declined to say which countries. ‘Expanding our design studio will enable us to work on greater numbers of projects at the same time and improve our design capabilities across SAIC Group models destined for European and Chinese markets,’ said David Lindley, managing director of SAIC Motor UK, in a statement.

Former Nissan designer Uhlarik will be based at Longbridge. He said: ‘Future model launches mean the design team has an exciting time ahead of it.’

SAIC has previously said MG will launch a Qashqai crossover rival, as well as a new sports car.

[Source: Automotive News Europe]

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

24 Comments

  1. the mg 6 could do with some better shaped lights, a body kit which is parallel to the ground, and a slightly more agressive front end treatment and and a more eat my dust looking back end…..and the sport wagon / shooting brake alex

  2. Expect the MG6 facelift to make it look like a Tonka trunk qashcow then?

    Mind you, those supermarket car park ding creating tanks seem to sell well to the sheeple of britain.

  3. stop running down good nissan cars.But I for one agree with alex the MG6 needs to up its game for the brand to survive in the uk

  4. Lets put it this way, perhaps if MGRovers’ Pheonix (sic) 4 had shown the vision Nissan have with the ‘cashcow’ (for that is what it is doing to NIssans’ turnover) and ‘duke’ (or should that be Juke 🙂 then perhaps we would still have a UK owned company. The reality is Mondeo class car sales are plummeting in the EU so don’t expect great things from the MG6 unless they bring out variants such as Estate, cabrio and so on. I quite like the MG6 and will probably consider a diesel if they ever produce one with a decent DSg style box however until then I hold my breath, not!

  5. Did I say Duke……sorry, meant Juke. Anyway clever marketing can sell anything as Nissan have demonstrated. It’s just a pity their marketing man hasn’t joined MG.

  6. When other manufacturers are talking about investing hundreds of million of pounds, (or even over a billion in the case of JLR ), is 1.5 million going to fool anyone into thinking they are taking this whole thing seriously?

  7. To me the fact Uhlarik has gone to MG UK is a positive sign for the future – he obviously sees that MG UK has a future and don’t forget that his opinion will be more informed than most!

  8. I may despise every Nissan produced within the last 30 years, but one cannot deny that Nissan are good at creating a niche, the UK operation is working at full swing because of it. As someone else said, if only MGR had had the nouse to do this and stop trying to compete with Ford and Vauxhall with decrepit old cars they might have done well. I hope this means there is some serious thought going into the Icon concept, this car will definitely sell if they make it.

  9. They should dust off the Rover TCV and launch in the UK to compete with the highly successful SUV’s where sales are growing 20% p/a. TCV would have saved Rover if MGR had had thr guts to put it into production.

  10. See with have industry analyst’s on here again,i dont think this guy has shot himself in the foot joining SAIC,the Nissan juke is a great looking car and it sells,it isnt a me too car and that makes it attractive.
    Obviously designed by a free thinker.

  11. He was responsible for making the silver coloured headlights on the qashqai black for 2010 by the looks of it. Let’s not get too excited.

  12. I live in the North East and the Qashqai & Juke are selling in abundance here… plus all the transporter loads that go onto the car carrier ships for export every day.

    Like it or not Nissan have done wonders for the UK car industry. I dont care for the Juke but images of the next upcoming cars (Hatch + a NOTE replacement)look promising.

    At least SAIC are thinking big in recruiting this chap. Lets give him time

  13. Well im not going to judge him yet, but as Nissan has not designed a car that I have wanted since the 300ZX im not expecting much. If anyone thinks the Juke is good looking need to see an optician.

  14. Where is Martin Uhlarik’s email address? I can send him a few design ideals for future MG Rovers. A sucessor to the R8 Tomcat, a new R8 Cabriolet & a wide body MG7.

  15. oh no it looks like hes a left hander, they make the
    worst car designers,should have got stephane schwartz in,
    he is a design legand behind the primera and mahindra dragon wagon

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