News : SAIC to invest more in the UK

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Jon Griffin

Chinese-owned MG Motor UK has benefited from £450 million worth of investment to steer Longbridge back on the road to success – and more funds are on the way.

The figure was disclosed by MG Motor UK bosses who revealed the car firm was to hit the export trail to mainland Europe within two years. Meanwhile, the company also aims to double Longbridge output in 18 months with a diesel MG and hatchback model.

The lastest phase in the growth of the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation firm was revealed by managing director William Wang ahead of major new production plans to boost sales.

Mr Wang said a new diesel version of the MG6 would be introduced by the end of 2012, a Ford Fiesta-sized MG3 in the second half of 2013, with a Ford Focus-sized MG5 also in the pipeline.

Plans are also on the drawing board for an MG SUV vehicle, similar in size to the Nissan Qashqai, following a wave of interest in the concept MG Icon SUV unveiled at the Beijing Motor Show.

The new models, allied to a series of new engines, will see output doubled by the end of 2013 to consolidate recent showroom successes. The firm sold a record 236 cars in March compared to eight a year previously. MG Motor UK has now sold more cars in the first quarter of 2012 than in any previous full year – and Mr Wang said the firm was geared for major new expansion.

‘By the end of the year, we will have an MG6 diesel, by the second half of next year we will have the MG3 and my target is to be exporting to Europe within two years. Our philosophy is that we go step-by-step. It will be small volumes in Europe at first. We need time to test the markets. We do not have ambitious, aggressive plans to produce 10,000 cars next year.’

Meanwhile, Press and PR Manager Doug Wallace said: ‘£450 million has been invested so far and that is an ever-increasing figure. The investment is across the range – we are beginning to see the fruits of our labours.’

  • Birmingham City Council is urging workers to ‘buy Brum’ – with its 46,000 staff offered discounts of up to £2500 on new MGs. Council leader Sir Albert Bore has launched a special Priviliged Members Car Scheme guaranteeing around 15 per cent off the MG6.

[Source: Birmingham Post]

 

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

46 Comments

  1. I’m encouraged by this article –

    Firstly, by the increase in sales recorded, still with MG6 petrol only. Secondly, the future model plans are encouraging. Mostly, however, it shows that perhaps we shouldn’t keep adopting a “what on earth are you doing?” attitude. This article gives the impression that the Chinese know exactly what they are doing and are purposefully taking a slow, steady and solid approach.

  2. I know there will be a lot of negativty about this latest news, but for those who work at the factory or its engineering base, this news really does give them some hope that Longbridge will still have a role to play in the design and assembly of future generations of MGs.

    It is also good news that Birmingham City Council has urged its employees to buy Brum (although I personally would be more inclined to buy an entry level Land Rover Freelander than a top-of-the-range MG6 which sells for a similar amount). I wish more councils, British companies, members of the Royal family etc. who supposedly ‘support British manufacturing’ would actively adopt a similar approach to supporting “one’s own industry”.

    Now let’s see some more positive comments from the rest of you…

  3. If only one tenth of Birmingham CC staff bought one that’s more than 4500 cars. Record production that the factory possibly could not cope with, but am sure would be willing to try…..

    The only grumble I have really is what they are defining as ‘a success’ and ‘record’ sales…..

  4. This is fantastic news! MG are going from strength to strength under SAIC, and I am sure they will be world leading by 2018.

    Just wait till the 3 and 5 launch!

  5. How can anyone feel positive about this, considering the spin used in the article? The news about JLR on the other hand shows the British can still punt out products the world wants. Such a shame the company is no longer British owned though. That said, JLR shows how it’s done.

  6. I agree with ianto, and without saying i told you so,over many months i have said SAIC are playing the long game and they need no lessons on car manufactoring off anyone.Gimme gimmee gimmee,no,you can wait.China is the new super power,not europe or USA -especially financially and i think there will be some exciting models in the pipeline.Call SAIC all you want but at least they are investing,£450m not enough? better than shutting the place.In regards to buying british or in fact buying an MG which i applaud BCC,are there some silly european competition laws regarding this or am i just wrong?Anyway,thanks SAIC for investing and believing in the uk,more than our own government did way back then.

  7. I suspect the Hams Hall BMW engine plant employs more people than MG at Longbridge,it would be interesting to compare the UK manufacturing content of a petrol 1 series versus an MG5…

  8. ” MG are going from strength to strength under SAIC, and I am sure they will be world leading by 2018.
    Just wait till the 3 and 5 launch!”

    Ehhh? Ianto, this is a little different to your other post where you stated “MG to quit UK”, and then complained about the 3 being badly made and it all being too little too late!

  9. Interesting reading, its good for MG at Longbridge, but as Chris noted on coment 2 building a factory in Thailand is a bit concerning. I take it that labour costs in China as not as competitive as it used to be perhaps. As already noted nice to SAIC to invest in the UK, when the goverment would not help. Good feature, Regards Mark

  10. I think it’s great news, the MG6 is a smart car and I’m looking forward to the new models. As more of a Rover man than MG though, I do have a little tinge of sadness, I wish the Viking Badge was sat proud alongside MG’s.

    Good luck SAIC!

  11. Great news but i still think that saic can build a state of the art factory in the midlands to replace Longbridge.
    Are they going to make a separet engine plant like they have at bmw hams hall plant.

  12. @ Richard,

    I know “the Freelander is made in Liverpool.” However, it is still a British product and still supports design and engineering staff based at Gaydon and, no doubt, some component suppliers based in the Midlands.

  13. @ Jason1.8TC:

    I am in the same boat as you in that I am a Rover man than an MG fanatic. Some of the hallmark qualities of Rovers such as well designed interiors, a feeling of solidity and elegance and distinctive designs are loosely evident on some of Land Rover’s current models.

    That said, neither MG nor Land Rover will be a full substitute for the Rover marque, which is why I plan to keep on driving a Rover.

  14. At 14,i have had a 3.2L freelander 2 in bits for various wiring/diagnostic problems-transcable systems etc and was surprised how many chinese components there are in it.

  15. Just seen an MG6 Magnette advert whilst surfing ‘Art of Trolling’, the one carrying the ‘British is the new German’ tagline. Finally, another MG advert. Maybe they are serious about our market. The PRL hasn’t nearly reached the heights of the Golden Era of British Car manufacturing, but they are working towards it, finally. Longbridge could just make it.

  16. This is encouraging news – bearing in mind I will be working near Longbridge for the next 4 years – I’ll be very happy to see some serious re-investment in the place – I’ll keep my eyes peeled for signs of life. But, and it’s a big but, will the British buying public be persuaded to take a punt on an MG?

  17. What a complete and utter load of PR spin from MG as usual. The 236 cars were the balance of the rental deal, and demo cars just to get the new plates. I would actually lean more towards Longbridge being dumped, and Thailand being the production site, simply down to labour costs. Staff wages in England are too high when you compare it to places like Thailand. They could easily employ several for the cost of 1 Brummie, and even with the shipping costs, the individual unit cost will be much lower, thus more profit per car. Basic business economics unfortunately. A future for Longbridge? I very much doubt it. The £450 million, well a big chunk of that will probably be the rent for the place,and the ‘lines’ and is chicken feed in the automotive industry. The British have already spoken by the way. MG is NOT wanted here, and the pathetic joke of offering council staff a discount in Brum? Well talk about kicking the other dealers in the gonads again that aren’t in the Brum area. If they actually slashed the screen price to a realistic figure, say 30% reduction, and actually advertised this, they might find that people might buy them. Sadly the management are still just as clueless as ever.

    Oh and some really hot news here… Several large industrial areas in China are to be flattened to make way for more cities, and companies are being told to accept the payments to re-locate or face the consequences, so this could easily severely disrupt component manufacture for MG, especially as some of the factories are die casting plants.

  18. i work for the birmingham city council ,and with no pay deals for three years and further cuts on the way and the demise and and lack of support for mg rover products buy an mg6 i think not ,as for the chinese supporting the midlands ask the people who took assessments for employment in 2007 and are still waiting for a reply and as for the current workforce if there highly skilled i suggest someone sit down and go through all the cvs ,sticking a bumper and some oil in a car dont make you a mechanic ,and yes march sales 236 are good but we no guys who work there and they have built only 4 this year ,so dont hoodwink us all and 450 million mmm if there gonna spend that i suggest they first look at the current assembly guys and give em some better working class conditons ,heaters and overalls that fit and lose the mentality of if you dont like it leave when you want ,you guys on here have some excellent comments and i appreciate them but dont be fooled they must be losing money hand over fist but with a bottomless pit of money by saic it all sounds imoressive im not convinced go into longbridge and look yourselves . MARTY B YOUR CLOSER TO THE TRUTH THAN YOU THINK WELL SAID SIR

  19. @ 4 David 3500, Im not sure that the Royals buy all the cars they have..I suspect they are “given” cars (in exchange for that crest which is allowed to appear in the land rover or jaguar hand books (“by appointment to her Royal Highness the Queen of England, and her faint shaddow the Prince of wales”) alex

  20. @20 mazda build cars in thailand as well,the ford ranger for one,but so what? honda build in swindon,japan and the u.s,as does nissan just because SAIC are considering it does not mean longbridge will close,it could be a cement mixer factory they want to build there for all we know.

  21. Not sure what they spent the 450 million GBP on, but it’s certainly not on a new car plant at Longbridge. I note the words are chosen carefully, 450 million has been invested somewhere and Longbridge has benefitted from it which I guess is PR speak for we have spent 450 million in China which we will use to supply cars which are a few turns of a screw driver from complete to Longbridge.

    Not that I want to knock what they are doing, we should recognise the UK content from the design and development team, very limited content from assembly and virtually no uk components in their products. In reality we have a small design centre and a toe in the water marketing exercise for European market.

    We have to remember that this is new ground for Chinese car manufactures and they must know they are still a long way from being able to design, engineer, manufacture and deliver products to the European market which can compete with VAG, which is the requirement to have a serious part of the European market.

  22. @Alex Scott:

    As you suggest, I believe there is “gentleman’s agreement” over the supply over some vehicles from some of the British marques to the Royal family.

    Sadly though, it is a shame that some of the younger members of the Royal family such as Princes Charles, William and Harry all actively support foreign marques who have very little contribution towards supporting British manufacturng interests.

    I am guessing that if there is a cavalcade of British marques for Her Majesty this weekend (as there was ten years ago), they will either struggle to understand the relevance of it or fall asleep.

  23. There is a lot of PR spin in this article I am affraid. I imagine 450 million equates to the design of the 3, 5 and 6 that are built in China. Almost no money has been spent on the Longbridge manufacturing site. RR Evoque has sold 60,000 vehicles alone in just 6 months after launch!! Thats real investment in a world class high value product. The MG6 even in diesel form will only ever be average. The new SUV Icon does show more design promise but that is some way off. MG SAIC need to get serious and are just playing at it. The MG3 not even available until 2013 by which time it will be 3 years old and wasn’t very inspiring to start with. I am a true MG fan so am saddened by all of this.

  24. @25 not being fuuny graham but the chinese are not some backward economy or country they have been building and manufactoring for decades,granted i would not jump into a cherry or old geely to have a crash in.We can all be industrialists and economists lets just wait and see.

  25. @22
    Most of the royal cars we see on state occasions are in fact gifts. However they do buy cars, and mostly rovers, and yes the Queen’s persoanal car for years was a P5b which was purchased, not gifted and her choice. They also bought SD1s, 800’s and 75s for their own use, there is also a battered D90 she has been seen driving when taking an interest in her racehorses

  26. The chance of Longbridge being closed for Thailand is a no brainer – it won’t. To be able to sell cars in large numbers in Europe it will have to manufacturer cars here or elsewhere in the European Economic zone due to the rules on importing. That is why Kia, Honda, Toyota, Nissan etc have plants here.
    The £450m investment probably includes the money spent on the design facilities and the development work done at Longbridge.
    @17 manufacturers buy parts from all over the world, and in fact some premimum brans have the same parts as the cheap brands. BMW diesels have a part in the valves that are the same in PSA/Ford, GM and Mercedes diesels. A few years back all of these were halted from making engines becuase they had an issue at the part manufacturer.
    As for the royal cars, the young princes are only taking a lead from Dad, as he has had quite a few Audi’s over the years.

  27. @27 its ok to quote the evoques sales, fair enough,but its a focus platformed piece of jewelry if it comes down to brass tacks-and i love it.The MG6 isnt trying to be anything other than a fairly well priced,well equipped car.how old is the swift now?

  28. There is obviously the odd SAIC propaganda employee writing the odd comment here. These cars will never be MG’s and deserve the Cecil Kimber and William Morris badge until the actual headquarters of MG is in the UK (JLR – TATA as a good example of how it’s done with respect)and ALL the R&D is carried out in the UK. They also need a proper assembly not just wheels and engine fit.
    They’re not kidding anyone over here and it’s insulting to the Chinese consumer to sell a Chinese car with an MG badge claiming it’s British. They need to look at TATA to understand a good believable template.
    Yes China understand manufacture but they don’t understand what makes a product believable…yet…..I hope, for the employees at Longbridge they get it sooner than later.

  29. @ Stewart:

    Her Majesty actually bought two Rover P5Bs in 1973 (both finished in Arden Green), which are still owned by her. One of them has covered a genuine 6,000 miles.

    Her Majesty also owns another example, a P5 3-litre finished in Admiralty Blue, which Corgi has chosen to make a special edition model of as part of their Vanguards range, due for release next month.

    “they do buy cars, and mostly Rovers”. This is one of the reasons why I have so much respect for Her Majesty – because she and some other members of the Royal Family actively support a British made product wearing an evocative badge on the grille. A product that isn’t chintzy or superficial its appeal, but understated and elegant.

  30. “Im not sure that the Royals buy all the cars they have..I suspect they are “given” cars (in exchange for that crest which is allowed to appear in the land rover or jaguar hand books (“by appointment to her Royal Highness the Queen of England, and her faint shaddow the Prince of wales”) alex”

    I think there are rules used by the royal households when awarding a warrant, just having freebies thrown at them doesn’t count, they have to actually actively buy from a particular supplier for a period of time. (incidentally it’s Her Majesty, not Her Royal Highness the Queen)

    “as for the current workforce if there highly skilled i suggest someone sit down and go through all the cvs ,sticking a bumper and some oil in a car dont make you a mechanic”

    Agreed, but then on that basis not many of the thousands that used to work at Rover or currently at any other car plant are ‘highly skilled’ either. We’re often told they’re “highly skilled” by their union reps and PR people, but the simple fact is any production line is broken down into small tasks which a person is trained to do. Most of it was very straight forward screw a bit on then do the next one. If you do nothing but bolt down seats all day then you soon become very good at bolting down seats, you could go to another car factory and bolt down seats just as well, but if you were asked to fit a windscreen you’d be scratching your head.

  31. I honestly think all hope is lost for people on here to ever agree sensibly on anything. The overtly negative reaction to this article by some is truly unbelievable. Even to the point of someone saying the cars will not be MG unless the HQ is here and all the build? So MG were always known for building every component in-house by MG themselves? Of course not, MG has been merely a badge on cars assembled from the production line of a plethora of Austins, Rovers and Morris cars.

    How can a seemingly encouraging article about the future be received so negatively? I really do not understand this at all. Some of the posts above amount to nothing less than trolling. I do not understand why some of you bother to visit this site because clearly, nothing will ever please you.

  32. “MG has been merely a badge on cars assembled from the production line of a plethora of Austins, Rovers and Morris cars.”

    Absolutely true, but these new mgs owe nothing to Austin, Rover, Morris et al.
    China holds the purse strings and ultimate say over design, so not really British designed, built in China, shipped over here 80% complete, Longridge then screw on the remaining 20% Chinese parts. China then uses the Union flag at every opportunity to dupe the gullible into believing they are British – if the cars are so bleedin’ good why not fly the Chinese flag?
    Theres no similarity or link between ne mg and old MG in my eyes tbh

  33. @36 i could not have put it better myself,indeed there is hypocrisy as well negging to death a chinese made car while holding a iphone or ipad,strictly speaking MGs have always been badge engineered, the MGB based on an old cambridge and was never really a sports car it just evokes some emotions now.To our eternal shame the chinese are going to build MG from the ground up-the MG6/roewe is a new car and hopefully we will see new models in the future,its easy to look on MGUK’s website for info as well.Some people on here should delve deep and ask themselves why they have a percieved xonophobia to things chinese?good old england never gave a shit about this firm in the end,it should have shut half the plants in the very early 70’sand invested for the future with what was left,not serial handouts as a sop to union barons,bolshie shop stewards and inept managers.

  34. Well said 36 and 38!

    Nice to see Bham CC employee above being so supportive of local investment. Look,not so long ago most people believed car production was gone for good from Longbridge. Okay, the cars are part assembled, and the limited current range has made a slow start. BUT, SAIC is showing commitment and once more models arrive and European sales commence production levels and local content will rise.

  35. Royals buying not-made-in-Britain cars is utterly disgraceful. Tory and Labour governments failing to support British-owned industry was, surely, treasonable!
    But we all carry on. As if we’re not responsible and unable to do anything for ourselves.
    Back in 1982 I asked for a British made tv in our local Curry’s to be met with bewilderment as to why anyone would ask for such a thing. It hadn’t happened before and I doubt they’ve been asked again. When did any of you last check if a UK-made version of the product you want was available? Radio? Washing Machine? Truck? Phone? Book?
    Basically, from bottom to top we don’t give a monkeys. So, this weekend fly your Union “Jack” (insulting) from your Renault while texting on the i-Phone and kid yourself that you’re a patriot.
    There’s plenty excuses not to buy British, but to not even try? Hmmm.
    We’re all guilty.
    As a subject in this third world country (where most assets are foreign-owned) I hope MG survive to make good cars here, and applaud the Brum Council’s offer, but – if this small space on the web is a pro-British site, then reading a selection of comments across the pages – I have my doubts.

  36. “When did any of you last check if a UK-made version of the product you want was available? Radio? Washing Machine? Truck? Phone? Book?”

    It becomes increasingly difficult to find such examples though. I did manage to find a British made bike, most are made in the far east these days. Sadly though, the service from the manufacturer (Pashley) is terrible, they’re not even that interested in selling you a complete bike let alone the replacement parts.

    I have one of their trailers too, i bought second hand because they didn’t bother to respond to my enquiries about a new one! I needed a small part for the coupling on it, emailed Pashley and eventually got a reply, telling me i had to buy a whole new coupling for about £100. So i email the coupling manufacturer in Germany, and they replied the next day offering to sell me the part for 10 euros.

    Sadly I have to agree with you, we British are our own worse enemies, both consumers and manufacturers. Next time i buy a bike i’ll probably order a Dutch one, because our own leading manufacturer are so atrocious to deal with. Even those of us that try are eventually beaten down in the end.

  37. IF you could find a British made radio it would probably be the size of a washing machine and weigh the same as a truck, so thats three boxes ticked in one go!

  38. A comment above got me thinking,why do we say UK plc? the banks,asset strippers,corporations,hedge funds,lobbyists,governments and out and out greedy bastards have eroded industry over the years and it seems to me a few foreign firms- tata,nissan and honda have invested in this country and workforce display incredible integrity and provenance in doing so,of course they are there to make money as well and thank god they are here.

  39. @ Ianto – next you’ll be telling us that you want a knife and have too many spoons. For “Irony” read “Sarcasm”, perhaps? Oh, and if you want irony, perhaps your Saab moniker will do. What was our local Saab dealership in Derby has just become an MG outlet…

  40. @42 – I have a British made hifi (complete with radio tuner) courtesy of Arcam in Cambridge, and very good it is too.

  41. “Birmingham City Council is urging workers to ‘buy Brum’ – with its 46,000 staff offered discounts of up to £2500 on new MGs. Council leader Sir Albert Bore has launched a special Priviliged Members Car Scheme guaranteeing around 15 per cent off the MG6.”.

    I would expect that most manufacturers will have similar arrangements to give Birmingham City Council (and many other Council’s employees) contracted discounts too. So, for anyone wanting to “Buy Brum”, as opposed to “Buy Chinese”, there are probably equally good deals available from Jaguar Land Rover at Solihull and Castle Bromwich (not to mention Halewood) or even MINI, whose Hamms Hall Plant employs around 20 times the number of Brummies building MINI engines than are employed at Longbridge uncrating virtually complete MG6’s!

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