Time to get behind the brand?
Let’s be honest, many of us have been a little unfair to MG Motor UK over the past few years. I will accept that in some cases the brickbats have been somewhat justified, especially where false starts and belated car launches have been concerned. But many remarks and, sometimes, hateful digs about the marque are nothing short of xenophobic or ill-informed. They’re coming from some people who, it appears, simply wish to see MG fail regardless of the efforts of some genuinely talented UK-based Designers and Engineers.
Over the past few weeks, a great deal of effort has gone into our own housekeeping on AROnline. Site and forum moderators from England and overseas have been culling and blocking repeat offenders who’s only aim seems to be upsetting people merely for fun. Your opinion is yours alone but a line has to be drawn when it starts to border on the libellous or slanderous – of course, as is always the way, it’s a very small minority that spoil it. On the whole though, we are pleased to say that an overwhelming majority of you are decent loyal supporters of the cause – of this we never forget and offer continued thanks!
Whatever your opinion on the MG3, maybe there is now a big chance that it can turn around the current situation of apathy and underwhelming sales with the MG6. The prices for the MG3 have now been announced and, quite frankly, MG has rather cleverly dropped into a unique niche in the marketplace. General banter and initial responses regarding the ‘3 talk of stealing sales from Pacific Rim brands, such as Hyundai and Kia but wait… it’s more interesting than that. Both the aforementioned manufacturers’ models are now priced more in accordance with the volume brands and that gives the MG3 a considerable advantage in every sense.
Here we have a UK-engineered car with very agreeable styling cues, funky graphic option packs and a sporting heritage on the front grille priced under the all-important £10,000 mark – it’s genius. For this price, I am still almost certain than so far as margins matter a healthy figure of profit remains. Most of the raw components will, no doubt, be sourced from the Far East, but the days of Chinese products being similar to a cheap plastic toy in terms of quality are so long gone. It is here where the advantages lie: foreign-sourced parts of an agreeable quality for an agreeable price.
UK Talent: the real unsung heroes
No doubt there are a certain percentage of locally-sourced components too, but where do you think much of your current mainstream car parts come from? So how will it stack up from a salesman’s point of view? Well, speaking as someone who has plied their trade on the showroom floor, it has every chance of success. My own take on any new car is a unique one: if I would buy and run one, I would happily sell them. And for this car, at this price, where can you go wrong. Quality and reliability are bound to be acceptable – it has to be as there is no tolerance in the marketplace for inferior motor cars these days.
Lessons must be learnt from previous experiences. Let’s use the MG6 diesel for example – a car that so many people said was vital to the ‘6 range. Where was the advertising or marketing campaign and sales push? The diesel ‘6 drives really well, feels properly engineered, packs a nice punch and is competitive in economy terms and yet, judging by the sales figures, no one seems to know. Some might say this is criminal especially after taking into account the hard work put in by some key British-based research and engineering teams from MG and affiliated organisations.
Some very talented men and women work at the Longbridge site – some of them I know on a personal level – and some of them eat, live and sleep MG. As a consequence, there is little doubt in my mind that the MG3 has every chance of going some way towards resurrecting the MG marque’s credibility – especially if past criticism has been taken on board and the lessons learnt from previous sales and marketing activity or, more to the point, the lack thereof. Some clever cheeky adverts here and there, some television show sponsorship or even a Z-list celebrity seen whizzing about in an MG3 can only do good for visual presence.
Confidence breeds success
Fair enough, MG Motor UK operates on a small scale and with considerable financial constraints selling through a very small number of dealers but, with the MG3 something just has to change. Internet platforms such as Twitter and Facebook may work as free advertising but they also breed the trolls and laptop mockers who are doing their best to infect the enthusiasts and brand fans with pointless and sometimes hurtful nonsense. What we all need to remember is that the negative stuff out there online is only aimed to provoke a response and for MG to re-think its Internet strategy, advertise properly and make an impact.
It’s this ‘impact’ that MG so badly needs to make. Speaking to many people about cars on a daily basis uncovers a worrying fact that many are still blissfully unaware than MG still produces cars. After all, you have to doff the occasional forelock to the heritage and past but the future is tomorrow. Cars such as the MG3 and ‘6 are vital not only to the future of the brand itself but for the future of Longbridge and any further UK investment. Dealers must be chomping at the bit to get some backsides on seats, yet some are growing impatient of what they see as a distinct lack of activity from MG.
This is not the case – Longbridge is a hive of creativity and, again, it’s here that people need educating. Tease the potential customer and keep them informed of projects and ideas rather than throwing up a Great Wall of silence. MG should shout from the rooftops about being part of a truly massive parent group in order to forge the minds eye of commitment and long-term UK viability. Without the all-important confidence in the customer’s train of thought, the car and brand will fail and it is here that MG needs to pull out the stops and bang that drum – loud and proud.
So what if the car has a slightly higher VED bracket than many other cars of a similar size? Surely, if the MG3 has such a distinct price advantage – which it clearly does to the tune of a four-figure sum in most cases – is this going to eclipse the cost advantage even over say three or four years? I think not. Using the VED against the MG3 in most circumstances might just be clutching at straws to pick fault with a product which is obviously offering some genuine value for money. When a car like this comes at such a canny price, you do have to compromise somewhere down the line.
The MG3 sits in a place that makes other niche brands seem hopelessly expensive. The ‘3 will never be a Cooper in terms of desire, but it’s surely more individual than anything else imaginable pound for pound, more sporting-themed than anything Korean and, dare I say it, British, than other volume cars. It’s cute, is well trimmed, priced in a league of its own and cleverly but doesn’t come across as cheap. All that’s required is some noise from MG Motor UK in the marketing department – success can surely be the only outcome.
So will it do well? I hope so. Does it need to succeed? Most definitely, but you the potential customers need to taste the new fruits of a hopefully reborn MG for yourself. Forget the rumours and Internet mockery often based on no tangible experience whatsoever and try the MG3 to draw your own conclusion rather than a made up guess from a naughty schoolboy with a laptop. This model simply has to win, so ignore the idiots and either make a choice to celebrate that we can still design and engineer a good package in the UK, or follow the trolls and potentially jeopardise the careers of some world-class British Engineers.
The long and rich heritage of MG will forever be celebrated, but the present and future need to be preserved too!
Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications
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