News : SAIC posts a record 2012

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

MG3 (1)

MG Motor UK’s parent company, SAIC Motor, has enjoyed a record year of production, with 4.49 million vehicles sold in 2012. The company is now China’s largest car company, and the eighth largest in the world. These numbers make an interesting comparison with the 782 MGs sold in the UK during the same period.

Last year’s total of 4.49 million sales was a 12 per cent increase on SAIC’s 2011 figures. And fundamental to the headline figure is a strong success story for SMTC UK – SAIC’s European Technical Centre based in Birmingham. SMTC design work underpins Roewe and MG, the two marques combined accounting for 200,000 sales in 2012. This was a healthy a 23 per cent increase over 2011.

Shanghai General Motors, SAIC’s joint venture with GM, had a 13.8 per cent growth and sold 1.39 million cars, and Shanghai Volkswagen recorded a a 12 per cent increase to 1.28 million cars sold. On top of this, the SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture grew by 12 per cent to 1.458 million vehicles.

In China since start-up just six years ago, the Roewe 750, 550, 350 and W5 models have been launched, and the MG7, MG6 and MG3 (above) were introduced. Currently, only the MG6 is sold in the UK, but the MG3 is set to join the British market line-up this year, with the Focus rival, MG5, joining in 2014.

The first second generation MG Roewe was launched in 2012 in the form of the GM Epsilon II (Buick Lacrosse, Saab 9-5)-based 950 (below), and the MG5 – both of which were launched in 2012.

Roewe 950 (1)

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

39 Comments

  1. Why is there seemingly no urgency with the UK market? Why take so long to expand the 6 range and introduce the 3 & 5? Oh why?!

    Mind 782 UK sales in 2012 is higher than the impression I get here on the Wirral. I wonder, does the Longbridge area account for a very significant proportion of these sales?

  2. The image of the 950 above looks fantastic; the artificially contrived Roewe marque and badge still sits uncomfortably with me though, and when/if launched in image conscious Britain, I think they’ll struggle to get it taken seriously.

  3. I agree, Tony. I’m not sure that I’d be happy with SAIC’s treatment of the Rover marque had they been able to buy it (I’d personally like to see it appropriately revived by JLR), but I’ve never been able to get my head around the comically contrived Roewe. And after 6 years, I still have no idea how to pronounce it!

  4. So ROEWE and MG account for 200,000 sales out of 4.5m! Less than 5%.

    Clearly SAIC want their own ‘indigenous’ brands, but it doesn’t sound like Roewe and MG are a significant part of their business; with those sales volumes they must be loss making too.

  5. If GM went to the wall though, they would be well and truly ‘in the woods without a paddle’ as a former colleague used to say

  6. @mikey, yes is a tiny part of SAIC but then again its pretty much a new company using anothers legacy, equipment, IP, Products, Engineers, etc etc.

    Whats interesting is the level of growth that is double the rate of SAICs other larger companies.

    MGRoewe (I pronounce it Row Way) is still a minnow in a big pond though.

  7. that 950 looks great from the side. makes you wonder why you cant buy these cars in the rest of the world, you would think China would be capable… alex

  8. @Alex Scott

    It is a rebadged Buick, which is effectively available in N.America and also as a Daewoo in S.Korea, as well as China in both Buick and Roewe forms.

    Wouldn’t go down well in the UK, as it isn’t German. Even Lexus struggle.
    We do get the smaller Roewes as MGs.

  9. Well done SAIC, although it’s pretty easy to have “record” years when you’re starting from a low base in a fast-growing market.

    I’m not sure if a business model based on – and I’m being a tad unkind, I know – rebadged hand-me-downs and general tat is a good one for the UK and Europe, for much the same reasons as other posters here.

    Forget the Roewe brand in the UK, not least for reasons of pronounciation and, as I said a while back, the MG3 will get slaughtered by the Dacia Sandero, among others. I see the Sandero has just been awarded What Car’s COTY in the Supermini category, too…

  10. 200,000 units/year isn’t much different to what Longbridge was churning out when MGR went under – given how much SAIC has invested it seems a fairly poor return so far but given their overall volumes they can afford a very long term global waiting game even if it may not appear the best option so far.

    I think part of the UK problem is the MG6 is more of a semi-luxurious Rover than an outright sporty MG and Rovers were the bulk of MGR sales. I would still like to understand why SAIC didn’t reintroduce the 75 and 25/Streetwise (post Nanjing) to the UK to keep dealers busy and also why they haven’t at least temporarily brought over Roewes (under whatever brand) such as the 350 (engine Euro standards notwithstanding).

  11. @13
    Chris, that’s what I was thinking, the business may/will grow in the future, but at the moment is insignificant when compared to their joint ventures. 200,000 is nowhere near enough sales to support their Chinese and UK factories and engineering teams.

    @7
    Yorkie, there’s zero chance of GM disappearing, their European factories may be at risk, but can you see the US government allowing GM or Ford to collapse? Besides, their China joint ventures are massive money spinners.

  12. In the original press release (not printed in full here) SAIC clearly states that Roewe is a CHINA ONLY BRAND. MG is their international brand!! So you will never see a Roewe branded vehicle outside of the People’s Republic.

  13. @16 – you mean Taiwan? Probably not – the PRC is usually testing missiles against the country formally known as Formosa……

  14. @12,I saw the Sandero advert on the telly and its slogan “do the maths” and i couldnt help but think it should have been “if you are skint and stink of piss,buy me”.

  15. To tell the difference between genuine editorial and articles that are simply uplifted from SAIC press releases, could they be marked with something like “Advertising Feature” in future? It would be really helpful.

    Does SAIC have a commercial tie up with aronline?

  16. Tigger – Sorry to disappoint you, but it’s a news story spun from SAIC’s year-end results.

    Had it been an advertising feature, I’d have not pointed out MG Motor UK’s pathetic sales. SAIC probably doesn’t know AROnline exists, and MG Motor UK couldn’t afford a commercial tie-up with AROnline. I’ve been to Longbridge several times in recent months, and I’d say they need to redecorate first. And then maybe sell some cars.

    If people don’t want me to point out how big the company is that owns MG then fine, I’ll stop reporting on it. But it’s interesting in terms of context, and I think people can make up their own mind about the relative position of MG.

  17. I haven’t heard anyone float the idea (although someone probably has). If things continue to go well for JLR, would Tata consider making a play for the MG badge too? Obviously SAIC would have to agree to sell, but given whats happened so far, they might be willing at some point. Probably far fetched, but it seems like it might make sense.

  18. @ Keith Adams:

    “I suppose it’s also interesting that I don’t see snide comments like this on the end of JLR news stories…”

    Maybe not but I have noticed a glaringly obvious error in a couple of their recent press releases relating to the Solihull plant. In them, Land Rover states that “Solihull started producing cars in 1948” [the date when the first Land Rover was introduced]. However, in February 1946, the Solihull plant was officially opened and production of the pre-war Rover P2 10, 12, 14 and 16hp based on the 1940 season models commenced.

    I take it their PR people are either ignorant to the fact that there was life in vehicle manufacturing at Solihull before the unveiling of the Land Rover in April 1948, or they don’t want to give further prominence to the heritage of the Solihull plant beyond the Land Rover era, for whatever reason (i.e. Rover cars). If the latter, then at least they should relate the wording specifically to Land Rover.

    It really irritates me.

  19. I agree with lots of ealier comments, MG been very slow in promoting the MG6, the diesel engine version,also still require a more sporting performance engine for the MG6 and of cousre we are still waiting for MG5 and 3, the 950 look great, a grown up Rover 75.Shame the 750 or 350 was not available in this country, perhaps marketed as Morris.SIAC is boasting at the sales, but very small sales in the Uk in compares to their overall sales.Regards Mark

  20. @Mark (27)

    Its not a shame and its no surprise either for one very simple reason…

    Morris is a dead brand and even when it was existent, it represented the low technology back to basics approach to engineering with the BLMC empire.

    The people who matter IE: the general buying public who buy WITHOUT emotional feelings would not take the 750 or 950 seriously… Image is still king sadly and no dealer group I know would take it on. There is no room in the market place for a volume make rival thats seen as a fringe player.

    MG is the only brand that is seen with a scrap of credibility on a global or European scale and it is THERE were all future activities need to be concentrated on.

    With an astute and hard nosed UK sales and marketing force behind it I may add!

  21. @22, I for one will thank you for your hard work on this site,im sure you dont have to do it but if you live and breathe cars fair enough,that yourself and others bring us articles on all things automotive is a great source of pleasure and i hope you carry on doing so.As you may deduce from my somewhat forthright nature,i would have issued robust travel advice,if you dont like it,piss off.

  22. I understand what you are getting at Mike – our country is so image conscious it’s really quite scary. But if we are talking about building images, let’s not forget the once proud German manufacturer who sat on it’s laurels (rather like a certain British manufacturer), then came within a hair’s breadth from going bust, resurrected themselves by producing an Italian bubble car under licence and then produced a tiny engined coupe before starting to build proper cars. And this is the company that now rules the automotive world – every rep, vicar, bank manager and housewife wants one on the drive!
    So, you never can tell – from little (and extremely unlikely) acorns………

  23. @ Keith:

    “Which stories on here?”

    Definitely not stories on here (aronline), but glaringly obvious in some of their recent press releases on their media website. Interestingly, there was a news story in the Sunday Times Business supplement last week which highlighted the issue I raised over the 1948 date as when Solihull started building vehicles there.

  24. @2 ,I agree with you,it’s taking ages to get the products on uk roads,the stock looks dated before they are on sale.I live about 5 miles from Longbridge and i’ve only seen 3 MG6’s and one MG3 ( in camoflage ).

  25. SAIC would do well to concentrate on the MG brand and not get distracted with Roewe in international markets. However MG should consider broadening the range and offer a luxury version using some of the Roewe trim options on all their European cars. MG needs to be sporting but offer alternatives for buyers as well. Bringing back a heritage brand like Morris is a non starter sadly. They are finding it hard to resurrect MG given the negative associations with past failure of the brand in 2005.

  26. Roewe? I disagree with simon w’s comments on heritage brands – They can and should be brought back, this is simon’s personal take on the matter. Morris, Austin, Vanden Plas, Wolseley are all owned by SAIC and could be brought back these brands have a heritage and still have a following, better by far than to bring a brand back, rather than “make up a name”

    Utterly stupid comment to make about past failure of the brand what is he on about???? This is a personal snipe and has no bearing, I am surprised that he was allowed to put it there.

  27. Tata could always “sell” the Rover brand, under licence exactly the same as BMW did, with a clause in the contract to protect Land Rover – ie “you do not make a rival to the land rover products” or something similar along those lines, it worked for MG Rover, it could work again.

  28. @18 JagBoy – same front end… booted version.

    The MG3 looks just about acceptbable from the front, fairly decent from the back but a real dogs dinner along the side; been seeing them most days here in Shenzhen along with MG6’s, MG7 (Rover 75/ZT) with the old lights only, and the Roewe 550 (i think thats the number – anyway the one that will be the MG 5) And that last one is, imo, the only semi decent one I would consider buying. Even then it looks like a car that is about 4-5 years behind the new Focus.

    Only when someone with some nous is in charge in the UK and someone with a design brain instead of that bloke Kenny who, with respect, was a total light weight, will we see anything like a serious car company; to talk of the MG3 being slaughtered by the Sandero says all we need to know about their chances.

  29. I think the problem with the new MGs is that they’re not different enough from the Roewes that they’re based on. They should be aiming to produce cars that look like Alfa Romeos rather than slightly nondescript Korean hatchbacks. I can’t see the new cars selling in big numbers in the UK unless MG produce some blisteringly fast versions.

    The base Roewes probably make perfect sense in China, but wouldn’t sell with that badge in Europe. Morris might not be a bad idea for the smaller models – it would at least distinguish the MG versions as being sportier. I don’t think you could sell big cars (i.e. 750 or 950) with Morris badges on them. The Morris-badged cars would have to be cheap enough to compete with the likes of the Dacia.

  30. The MG3 reminds me of a small Skoda.
    The 950 reminds of that 1990’s Daewoo Leganza.
    Both attractive enough but not exactly cutting edge.

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