I must admit that, in my current role editing Classic Car Weekly and launching Modern Classics magazine (get your copy from WH Smith’s now – advert ends), I’ve rather taken my eye off the ball when it comes to the UK new car sales figures. I have followed the headline stories – and tracked the relentless, and welcome, growth of Jaguar Land Rover to become the UK’s most important car manufacturer, but the bimbling sales of MG Motor UK have rather slipped by unnoticed.
However, following a brief conversation with Mike Humble this evening, it seems that the overall situation for the Brum-based importer, ahem assembler, ahem R&D Centre for SAIC has improved negligibly since my last blog on the subject. Yes, MG Motor UK is up 46 per cent on November 2014, which should be cheered – but, when the baseline is 170 sales and the improvement is to 249 cars, it’s not exactly setting the world alight.
Since the MG6 appeared on the UK market in 2011, and the 3 followed on in 2013, the momentum is just not building quickly enough. It could be argued that the 6 is not a product the UK wants (I’d say it is – and, if it wore a Skoda badge, we’d be lapping it up in its thousands), so poor sales might be expected. However, the MG3 certainly is and, despite the lack of a diesel engine (thankfully), it should be pouring out of showrooms given its excellent pricing.
That’s disappointing. I wouldn’t ever say the UK buying public lacks taste, given that our best seller, the Ford Fiesta, is such an excellent all-rounder. But MG Motor UK’s underachievement looks like a complete joke these days. In November, it sold 249 cars and, for the year to date, it has limped up to a total of 2869. Given that MG Motor UK spoke of selling 2000 MG6s in the UK in its launch year, you get an idea of the scale of its failure.
Let’s add some more November totals from ‘rival’ manufacturers – Suzuki: 1932, SEAT: 2711, Dacia: 2438, DS Automobiles: 1549, Jeep: 768. Yes, MG sold more than Aston Martin, Bentley, Infiniti, Lotus, Maserati, SsangYong and Subaru, but so it should! We won’t even mention MG’s 249 in the same breath as Ford’s 21,597, Vauxhall’s 20,945, Volkswagen’s 12,958 or BMW’s 11,963.
Question is – how long can MG Motor UK sustain Longbridge in its current form with the volumes it does? I appreciate most cars are now imported, and the factory acts as a very capable PDI centre but, unless the GS effects a massive turnaround in fortunes for the company in 2016, one can only conclude it’s game over. And that would be a tragedy. Yes, I know it looks like I am kicking a dog that’s already down in this blog, but I do still care – and it hurts me to see the good name of MG, as well as the people it employs here, humiliated by the current sales situation.
Please, please MG Motor, get better. And soon…