Blog : Would Roewe work in Europe?

Keith Adams

Roewe 750 was a hot topic in November 2006
Roewe 750: Could potential Skoda, Kia or Hyundai drivers be tempted into buying one of these?

As usual, some excellent questions get posed by our readers. Take Ianto’s point in ‘Ask AROnline – ‘I love Roewe! The cars, the adverts and the amazing website… There is something about the Chinese interpretation of all things British that brings a smile to my face.’ It’s probably an ironic question, as I remember the outcry from many Rover fans when the 750 was launched, and it came hand-in-hand with a toe-curlingly awful faux-English advert…

…but it does beg the question: are we ready – perhaps – for an influx of Roewes in Europe?

I’ve already stated in a previous blog that the MG marque is in very real danger of being tainted globally by the cynical badge-engineering that’s going on. The rebadged Roewes masquerading as MGs – with their octagons resting in Roewe-shaped indents – just aren’t good enough. The ability of the MG6 is in no doubt and I am sure that the Roewe 550 is just as good (but with a cool digital dash to boot), so why blur the lines overseas? Why not just send out Roewe 550s, 750s and 350s and forget the unnecessary badge-engineering? Is Roewe (as pronounced by us Anglophones as ‘Ro-vee’) that bad? Really?

Here, in the UK, the MG6 as been criticised for not being sporting enough. Okay, it’s quick enough across country and capable on the motorway, but you’d not get up an hour early to give it a damned good seeing to. In time, with the 2.0-litre engine and six-speed ‘box which are coming, you might change your mind. However, until then, maybe they should consider introducing the more vanilla Roewes as a way of protecting MG’s sporting ‘specialness’. Maybe that’s already gone? But perhaps there’s an opportunity to establish a relationship along the lines of MG Rover’s demarkation, back in 2001-2005?

Personally speaking, I think, with the arrival of Geely around the corner, SAIC might consider heading for the same market arena – but not with MG. And Roewe might be their answer. Perhaps…

Of course, it’s also worth bearing in mind that, with marque names such as Austin, Morris, Sterling and Wolseley in the bottom drawer, there might be some special bespoke English-based brand trickery on it’s way, anyway. Maybe an Austin Sprite (based on the MG3) might just be the perfect value alternative to BMW’s forthcoming MINI-Metro (oh, did I say that? You didn’t hear that from me… shhh!).

After all, as they say, fortune favours the brave…

Maybe now's the time for a Roewe roll-out in Europe? What do you think?
Maybe now's the time for a Roewe roll-out in Europe? What do you think?
Keith Adams
Latest posts by Keith Adams (see all)


  1. Whilst I think there’s a market for these cars In Europe I don’t believe the name Roewe would work well, not just in the UK but in foreign markets. Over here it doesn’t help that the Chinese pronounce Roewe ‘Rong Wei.’
    I’d prefer to see a British name revived, maybe Morris would sit well alongside the MG marque, with an M replacing the R on the Roewe badge, but with the lions and everything else retained. Anyone crying out sacrilege would do well to remember Austin Rover did something very similar with the Montego towards the end of its run.

  2. It seems so obvious: Morris for the base cars, MG for the sports models (and make them sporty!) and Wolseley as a luxury model. No destroying of the brand- Morris was always cheap and Wolseley more expansive. Plenty of history even those who haven’t heard of them would find huge amounts of information as soon as they googled. The Chinese were quoted when they purchased MG it was for the history, now they have the names it seems they don’t know what to do with it.

  3. Im not so keen on the Roewe name its sounds like a television, and I agree they would perhaps be better to if not use an Anglo name, then invent one. or have a look in a latin dictionary im sure they will find something there they can use. but Ive always wondered why the Rover 75 or at least the MGZT didnt go straight back on the market (after the Crash of MGR) from China if they already had the blueprints and the means to make them. at the end of the day they could do with MG what Rover did in the 80’s. That is; Rover Sterling (comfort / luxury) Rover Vitesse (sporting), change the name Rover for MG and again have two cars from MG with different biases MG – some nice name for golfers, and MG – go out and burn tyres name . but one thinkg I dont like is the name Geely it truely sounds awful off the tongue…..I drive a Geely….yuck…I Drive an MG…ooh yeah.! and AustinPower…..well it could work. im not sure..the Austin Metro was a popular car.alex

  4. Yeah Get the Chinese to produce the
    Morris > MG > Wolsely Range and then
    the indians can produce an
    Austin > Triumph > Jag Range

    If only 🙂

  5. I’d prefer Morris too as it aligns we’ll with the MG brand also Roewe = fake rover. If I want the real thing I’ll buy a JLR product

  6. Roewe wouldn’t work in the UK but a Wolseley 750 with an illuminated radiator badge, with Morris on smaller cars? At the right price on adequate cars they would sell as is evident from the way that the likes of Kia, Hyundai etc have sold.

    i always thought that Rover went wrong when it started moving the brand down market. IMO Rover shouldn’t have been applied to any car smaller than the 75. From childhood memories of Triumph Heralds and driving lessons in a Triumph Dolomite – yes, I learned with BSM! – Triumph would have been a good small car brand.

  7. Can’t help thinking that Roewe, selling models linked to MGs in the UK would be seen as ‘replacement Rover’, ie a Chinese update of MGR – and with the 750, the same model too. That may be a good thing because it gives the new MGs some identity and link to the old MG brand. On the other hand, it may bring back memories of a failed company. Mainly, it depends on the quality of the product: as Skoda has shown, if its good enough, people will buy it anyway, so long as its marketed properly. I’d steer clear of brands which haven’t existed for 25 years or more – too little brand recognition amongst the general population, although for us car-nerds the fit with MG would be neat.

  8. BSD

    @1 ash jones

    I think you are right!

    People are more known with MG rather with ROEWE.

    That is why here in Israel the magnette is sold (or to be more precise-was sold. because it is euro 4 only,only 350 cars received a special permission to be sold. not it awaits receiving euro 5 in order to return to israel) as
    MG,but not MG6 but MG 550 (like ROEWE 550).
    and unlike the uk Magnette,the israeli MG550 looks just like the red Roewe 550 in the above picture-only with slightly different grille and mg octagon.
    It even has the digital dashboard of the Roewe 550…

    I think that in countries where the MG brand was well known,the cars should be sold as MG’s.

    however,in countries where the MG brand is not known (are there such countries?…),the Roewe name should be used.

    in addition,i think that Roewe & MG models should not look different (like the magnette looks in front like the MG6 and has it’s analogue dashboard,but the Roewe 550 looks like in the picture above and having the strange digital dash).

  9. I think there’s room for cars with a more comfort-oriented image than MG. Not everyone wants to buy a harshly suspended chariot with bling wheels and stupid tyres. My vote goes to re-using the Morris or Wolseley brands.

  10. Can’t see them using it here, at least I hope not. Apparently they are bringing back the Shanghai brand in China, so with the ex BL brands that they own (MG, Morris, Austin etc), I wonder if Roewe will turn out to be a short lived marque.

  11. I think the cars could make it, most definitely (with the exception of the 750 which needs to be replaced ASAP as no-one’s fooled by it’s bloodline and people just WILL NOT buy a car that looks so similar to a 13yr old 75.

    The branding is a worry, I genuinely believe they could work, but it’s a marketing nightmare for the company; they can’t seem to win, lovers of the firm are either sceptical or just plain against them form reading previous posts/comments, there’s arguments over dead brand names, but it’s all down to the amount of money they want to spend advertising these cars. I believe get the MG right first, get it noticed, let people know you exist and then start to bring the other stuff in, I feel only Triumph would work possibly either Austin or Morris could be salvaged, if the marketing was right (not some patriotic montage of the minor/mini, a35 etc), not some unpronouncable made up name.

  12. Morris

    I like that idea.

    Older readers may remember the ‘MOWOG’ name on parts made by the Nuffield Group!

    The only question mark with Wolseley is whether they would have to be nice to the people who run the big Wolseley business in the UK nowadays (I know it doesn’t make cars, but the trade-mark lawyers could nevertheless earn a few Shekels). The illiminated badge would sadly be a no-no – I asked Guy Jones about this and he confirmed he’d looked into it (in a previous life, not for a new Wolseley) and the legislative numpties wouldn’t allow it in case congenitally stupid knuckle-dragging drivers were confused, dazzled or shocked by the sight of a 0.5 Watt bulb glaring at them through a translucent badge.

  13. This article is the first time I’ve seen what is apparently the correct pronounciation of Roewe. Until now I never knew what it was supposed to be and just made up my own version of it, and my version wasn’t anywhere near Ro-vee.

    Surely that alone is a good reason why using that name in the UK would never work. It’s not an obvious-to-pronounce word, so from a marketing angle it’s a non-starter.

  14. No, no, NO. Roewe is a terrible sounding name. It does not roll off the english speaking tongue well and it is an obvious wannabe ripoff of the much more respected Rover name. I am personally tired of names like the Great Wall Hover, or the Chery Tiggo – I mean what do they even mean to us in the English speaking world? Perhaps they are mandarin for cheap and crappy? Cos that is sure what they are.

    The idea of rolling out the range may have merit, but it would be far better to give it a proper english name. A Roewe 750 badged as an Austin Princess or similar would actually make sense to my ears.

    It’s been so long since any of the old BL brands have adorned new cars that I think the public would give them a go if they were cheap enough, which they ought to be considering they are probably built for of cost of 50p per car.

  15. @markosity1973

    “which ought to be considering they are probably built for a cost of 50p per car”

    And that, is what I meant with the company perception issue.

    it’s a ridiculous (and probably meant in humour) throw-away statement which rubbishes the fact they are built in China, as though anything form there is sub-standard.

    It’s a massive hurdle to overcome

  16. @Mark

    Yes, it is a statement of the ridiculous, but there is an element of truth to what I say too. These cars will roll off the factory floor for a fraction of the price of what they did in the old days of Longbridge. It is a known fact that the average wage in China is only approx $4000 USD per year…..

    Here in Australia we have had the onslaught of Chinese made cars for about 18 months now and the prices of them is certainly unbeleivably cheap. You can now buy a brand new diesel dual cab ute for $24,990 AUD – a full 10 – $15,000 cheaper that a comparative model from Toyota, Nissan or Mitsubishi.

    They already have a reputation for being poorly made, rusting from the day you pick them up and flimsy plastics that break as soon as you breath on them. But still, people are buying them as fast as the damned factory can stamp them out.

    SAIC need to understand that in order to win the public over here in the west they need to start with a name that is not hideous to our English speaking ears and a price that is so low that people wont care if they break (which sadly, they probably will)

  17. AFAIK, SAIC (once NAC-MG) purchased the rights on marques Wolseley and Morris but those rights does NOT include rights to make cars with that names…
    Someone could explain much better this?

  18. Whilst part of it could be partly true, if the perception exists with former followers of the firm before even TRYINg them. What chance do they have with joe-public?

    I think there has to be an element of give em a chance and don’t hold any pre-conceptions, judge it for what it is, not for what you think it should be. Hardly fair to see it as the pot-noodle of the motoring world before taking a mouthful.. as it were

  19. Probably be better off sticking with the MG brand name as it’s well known in the UK, but I still like the look of the Roewe 750 & 550 and would personally be happy with that identity. Maybe they could cut it after a period of time using the Roewe name… It took us a while to get used to Hyundai, Kia, Daewoo etc

  20. That maybe the case in the UK, but in countries like Australia, New Zealand and the USA names like Austin mean nothing. They disappeared from sale so long ago that nobody remembers them anyway. Ask anyone under the age of 30 here in Aussie what Austin or Morris means to them and they will just look at you blankly.

    Letting Roewes loose on the market with that name will just lead them to be ridiculed for the silliness of their name. Over here in Australia you have to be a very brave person to drive a Chery for instance, because you just know you are going to get teased and laughed at by everyone on the road. Great Wall somehow manages to pass – probably because it sounds alright in English and has a sort of purposeful name that lends itself to commercial vehicles.

  21. @Mark case in point about Chinese car pricing;

    The Chery J3 is $14990 AUD driveaway (all taxes and registrations paid) This is stupidly cheap for a car of this size. Sure the quality is crap, but it is loaded with goodies and even manages a 4 star safety rating.

    If SAIC badged their equivalent as an Austin or similar and priced it the same, I would be down in the showroom tomorrow to look and maybe buy. Chinese cars need to be cheap, because there is little other reason for anyone to buy them otherwise, no matter what badge they wear.

  22. @Markosity

    “That maybe the case in the UK, but in countries like Australia, New Zealand and the USA names like Austin mean nothing”

    But the blog is “would Roewe work in EUROPE” not USA, AUS, NZ….

    I agree pricing needs to reflect what they are

    • But then Austin, Morris etc. do mean nothing to almost every European living outside of the UK…

      The cars could work in Europe (not the 750 though). But without being a) very cheap and b) getting excellent test results (4 starts in EuroNCAP is just not good enough) they are not going to sell in any significant numbers. And of course – this needs time – not months, but years.

  23. Agreed Alex.

    They did buy the company and the knowledge etc though so it would seem churlish not to use at least some part of its branding to further the range.

  24. The real challenge will be finding capacity. The market is pretty saturated in europe and yet every manufacturer seems to have plans to double production. Who exactly is going to buy these cars? There may be a gap but only at the bottom end of the market aimed at private motorists which is why Geely could work and precisely why MG are stuggling.

  25. Not too sure if Wolseley OR Morris could work as brands again..who outside of the classic car world knows what they are? Also, aren’t they just a little bit ‘twee’ for the UK in the 21st century? I think it would have to be a brand with a very subtle nod to the past, and something with a strong and positive history……..can you imagine Top Gear ‘news’ with Morris and Wolseley returning?

  26. I think Roewe would sell in UK as a KIA Hyundai et al rival which IMO is what they should have done first, MG later as an uber-cool 2 seater

  27. “Could potential Skoda, Kia or Hyundai drivers be tempted into buying one of these?”

    This sentence makes me sad, considering the cars original targets.

  28. If cars with Hyundia and Kia badges can sell in the UK then Roewe can despite the strange badge..

    Relationship to Rover could be a real asset or a handicap depending on the marketing. Connection with rover will at least make it easier for joe public to place/understand the brand..

    After all its a Rover with a twisted name.

    Despite what car nuts and motoring magazines/programmes think or say, the majority of the UK public will not notice, market them with 7 year warrenties and compeditive prices and they might shift a few more than they would with MG’s.

  29. That, along with the marketing is another crucial factor. They need to install confidence, a good back-up of warranty for piece of mind.

    They have to remember, it’s still very close memory that MGR went out of business and people don’t want to think they’ve frittered their money on a lost cause.

    It’s like trying to sell premium holidays through a travel company who went bust in a blaze of glory a few years ago. It’s hard to get customers to part with their cash in circumstances like that, unless you ive them a reason to believe you have confidence in yourself

  30. The publicity shots of MG I have seen (trade stands etc) have MORRIS GARAGES proudly behind the MG octagon. So – Morris would be a winner, keeping MG for sports versions. If MG Magnette (an old name if ever there was one) works in Isreal, then why not elsewhere?

    As for the 750 being a 13 year old design, Skoda uses previous generation platforms from VW to protect the VW brand. If that works for them, then a Morris 750 would work too.

    Finally, I think the illuminated Wolseley badge (for LWB or luxury versions) would be so cool to have back – if there is a health and safety issue with that, then the enormous strings of LED sidelights should be a concern as well. Day running badge lights anyone?!

  31. There’s nothing wrong with using the 75 in its current form in other territories, but it wouldnt work here or in Western Europe.

    Cars always go on to live future lives onece the tooling is sold on etc, look at the Peugeot 405 and Xantia, still 2 successful cars, but they wouldnt sell over here, no matter what price. FACT

  32. You just have to look at what is happening over the next 12 months in the automotive industry. Geely is to launch a budget family car for around £10k, similar in size to the 6, and very probably of similar quality. Dacia launching here with a small off roader, again around £10k, with the Sandero to follow afterwards at around £7k. These are cars that real private buyers want, especially as the credit crunch gets worse, not some pompous, poor emissioned, poorly badged monster, that is about £5-7k overpriced.

    The ‘mid range’ sector is in decline, and SAIC are really going to struggle with the MG brand. Perhaps it is time to finally lay MG to rest, and concentrate on making cars people can afford, that are cheap to run, then just maybe, in a few years time, when there is a bit of buyer confidence behind them, use the MG brand to bring out, an affordable ‘sporty’ car.

  33. @Marty B…’then just maybe, in a few years time, when there is a bit of buyer confidence behind them, use the MG brand to bring out, an affordable ‘sporty’ car’

    … by which time it would be too late. The MG equation can still work, provided the sportiness remains, and ideally if there is an actual sports car to underpin the brand.

  34. Are there any in the UK/ rest of world already, apart from China? Obviously not through dealers, but by private imports or any such means?

  35. It needs a completely new brand name here, Roewe is just too close and will conjure up the old image of old blokes with their flat caps, pipe and slippers clogging up the A roads doing 34.7mph on a NSL stretch, bring the range in cheap, undercutting the equivalent Kia, Hyundai etc by a fair chunk, add a decent warranty 5 years minimum, spec them up to the hilt and sit back as they sell like hot cakes.

    Try not to think you can compete with the big boys yet, do a Korea, start low and work up, look where Hyundai started, a cheap 5 door hatch, then a 4 door saloon, the top of the range loaded Stellar GSL selling for less than a Montego L!

    The Morris name will just bring up images of a crappy old Marina now thanks to Top Gear, Austin, well, being associated with the Mini could help but I do think they will need a completely new name with no links to the past whatsoever.

  36. If the quality is acceptable and the prices low enough, people will buy a Chinese car. This laptop I’ve sent this reply to on is Chinese and in 3 years has been largely trouble free and few people now still remember the time when Made in China meant extremely cheap and nasty pocket radios and kids toys that fell to pieces after a few weeks. Made in China now means an affordable and reasonable product, in the same way Made in Japan was in the seventies.

  37. Geely is probably the only Chinese car brand with any real sort of staying power. Thanks to the Volvo acquisition and the promotion of Peter Horbury to the top of the group’s design division, things will only improve for Geely.

    Tata would never sell the Rover brand to SAIC. For one thing, they want to protect the integrity of the Land Rover brand. In addition, they themselves are likely to expand into developed countries with their own core brand, so Tata giving a direct competitor a path to success is not going to happen.

    Perhaps SAIC needs a new brand for cheap cars – one that doesn’t sound ridiculous to Western ears (like Roewe). They inherited Yuejin from NAC. Perhaps this is their path to future success. With Yuejin as the low-end brand and MG as the sporty, premium equivalent (a new BMW rival in the making?) benefitting from economies of scale with Yuejin, SAIC could have its formula for European success. Keep Roewe confined to China since it’s going to be a laughing stock everywhere else.

    As has been said before, Morris has probably been lost thanks to middle-aged boors like Jeremy Clarkson harping on about a certain underwhelming 70s saloon. Wolseley? While MG had plenty of memorable “halo” products when it was still active, Wolseley was just a brand applied to premium Morris vehicles. Wolseley Motor Company had illustrious origins as one of the UK’s biggest manufacturers, but even my socially conservative grandmother thinks of Wolseleys as old-school.

  38. Im not going to buy into any car without a crash test rating of at least 5.
    I want more than a badge name to keep me safe
    I know Great Wall dont have a single point
    How does the Roewe rate?

  39. I agree that Roewe may not work in the UK, the idea was it sounded like Rover, but as some of us would like to see Rover brand to be visible on the roads again, but we all know that Tata owns the name in support of their exsisting Landrover branding.I know that Top Gear have slated Morris and Wolseley brands, but the Morris Marina concept was a good ideal, just the mechanicals and some of the build quality was not so good. But if we go back to the days of BMC,quality was very important and looking at some of the pictures of the 550/750 bring those brands like Morris and Wolseley would not not a bad thing, this would be in keeping with the MG and “Morris Garages”. We know that it was all part of the Nuffield Organisation. With Austin in mind however, as already been mentioned that they could use the “Princess^ brand perhaps, or Vanden Plas, but that brand is used in the US. I wonder who owns Marauder name these days, as we know was a Rover type sports saloon, Marauder 750 perhaps. I would love to own a 750, am sure the ex Rover 75/45 buying public would consider 550/750. Great article, well done. Regards Mark

  40. BSD


    As i wrote in responce no.9,the Roewe 550 is sold here in Israel as MG550D.

    Please look in responce no.9 and you will see that the iseaeli MG550 is exactly as the red Roewe 550 you see above,only it has the MG octagon.

    It even has the same interior-including the strande digital dashboard.

  41. Nobody is buying these cars badged as MGs, a well known British Brand, so why on earth would they be moved to buy the same car with some obscure Chinese badge? As for introducing a miriad of old British brands as suggested above, it didnt work in the 1960s so there is no way it could possibly work now!

  42. I know the use of the MG brand on cars that aren’t quite talented or sporty enough can be questioned. However, I don’t think the choice of brand name is the real issue. I’m sure if managed properly a success could be made a new MG range.

    I reckon today’s market (other than we fanatics!) may be rather confused by Morris, MG and Wolseley versions of the same car.

    Strangely, however, I do think the Wolseley name could have some appeal, even though a large proportion of potential buyers would say ” What? Who? “. The very name sounds good and if people were reminded or informed of its original values then who knows….

    Roewe in the UK and Europe smacks too much of fake Rover.

  43. Roewe is a rubbish brand name, but the answer isn’t bringing back some ancient British badge. Wolseley died 36 years ago, Morris 27 years ago, both badges were dropped for sensible reasons.

    Thankfully Rover was kept from them, and is owned by Solihull again.

    It’s a mystery why they couldn’t have come up with a new brand that could export well, Kia is a good example, easy to pronounce. Proton wasn’t a bad name either.

  44. I’m surprised Samsung haven’t developed their range of cars for Europe to be honest. After all Samsung gear isn’t bad, and they make virtually all Apple products.

    The Chinese are known for their absurd names, just look at the bus & coach brand King Long, erm…… I know Roewe is a daft name, but It could just work, and it is what I have been saying from day one that they should have traded as, with a budget entry car. If they had done that 12 months ago, we could well have seen plenty of dealers, and had Longbridge just as a PDI centre, like MVI was in Carnaby.

  45. Does anyone else think it’s odd in this era of ‘green’ that building cars on one side of the planet and transporting them thousands of miles is a huge waste of resources, and why aren’t governments stopping it?

    Especially when enough cars are already made in Europe, why do we need more?

  46. Agreed James. To make this farce of Chinese manufacturing even more ridiculous is the fact that the iron ore was probably dug up in Western Australia, shipped to China, smelted and pounded into a car then shipped to jolly old England. By the time it reaches you, the ingredients have travelled half the globe…..

  47. I think this is a silly idea – most of the world know the MG name – only those ardent motoring nuts would know Roewe. If you look at Kia, Hyuandi et al they struggled for many years with brand identity and introducing a new brand into a world that is struggling (well for this level of motoring it is) you will stuggle. Think how many Roewee would be sold instead of MG’s? I think closer to zero

  48. Ha!

    So import and export must stop in the name of the green-ists!!!

    While ever it’s CHEAPER to make something somewhere else it will ALWAYS happen

  49. I thought Longbridge was Austin and Oxford was Morris, Wolseley etc. It got confusing when Rover was coming out of there. They could revive a German name and call em all Rosengarts?

  50. I wasn’t going to get into this debate….But ! Will it /Wont it make it in Europe? I would love a Roewe 750 (nee 75) even after all this time it still looks good and certainly better that the pile of German Sh”te on my drive, This is a car that is graceful in a way that few Manufacturers understand despite the Foreign money it used to make it.

    As for the name …well I agree Roe doesnt roll off the tong properly, though thinking about it did the Established players sound any less strange? VolksWagen, Audi, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Daihatsu, Skoda, Seat, Lada,FSOetc, and some of the once famous but dormant names such as Vanden Plas, Jawett, NSU, Simca, Yugo etc, Remember when Seat 1st came to the UK and people had to be told “it’s pronounced as Say-at”, I still hear people call them seats.

    It has been mentioned here a number of times, If they are cheap People will buy, if they are any good People will buy more, If they are crap they will die a painful death and quite rightly so, Remember many buyers couldnt care less what badge it is (although a nice name does help) so long as it gets them from A-B cheaply, When we buy a Domestic apliance that has Died on us, do we really care that much what name it is? We have a White Knight (who?) Tumble Dryer bough cheap as chips, it was even cheaper to buy than repair the old item, which has managed to outlive all the other big names Hotpoint,Hoover, etc And yes I would buy another, would even recommend it !

    The only problem I have is the UK opinion of those who know about its origins, who will either welcome or shoot it down and kill it before it has any chance to succeed, Doesnt bare thinking about what is going through the minds of Roewe/MG when they read these forums…..

  51. This sunday Feb 5th 2012 BBC 2 Top gear

    Jeremy Clarkson and James May travel to Beijing for a look at China’s ever-expanding car industry and a violent encounter with The Stig’s Chinese cousin

    Messing about with the Roewe 350!

  52. @Wasequiped, you mean destroying a load of Chinese cars? Wrong Gear isn’t a car show in the slightest any more.

  53. In many ways branding is a side issue at the moment. SAIC need a range of cars with state of the art diesel engines to sell in Europe. Kia has a very economical 1.1 diesel (88mpg). Has to be considered even though Kia as a brand means nothing to me. Get the product spec right and then worry about branding. I suggest MG should be more sporty, Morris as the main stream and Wolseley or Humber as the luxury brand for Europe. But and it a big but, the prices need to be much more competitive to sell in volume. Thats how the Japanese gained share from the late 60’s onwards and SAIC have the labour rates to compete in the 6000 to 15000 bracket that dominate private buyers wallets in these depression times.

  54. I just can’t see these old names coming back, what is Wolseley or Morris or Austin to the average young car buyer?

    “I is in me new Wolseley innit”

    My hope is that TATA somehow look to revive Rover, they could easily do with a conservative saloon to sit beneath the X-Type replacement….start taking a few sales from the Insignia. With the Land/Range Rover as brothers again and Jaguar as it’s close cousin, it would work…come on TATA, you had the b**ls to lauch the Nano….

  55. Admittedly Roewe (Chinese for glorious power) does absolutely nothing for me. Give me a used Rover 75 with a proper heritage badge on the radiator grille any day.

    However, while Roewe would not likely work here in the UK in the short or medium term, it might work in other market sectors as an alternative affordable luxury brand. After all, look at what Toyota created over twenty years ago with Lexus. If MG Motor Ltd ever started producing high quality, desirable models that sell well and offer high standards of customer satisfaction, then the prospect of Roewe being launched off the back of it in the long term outside China might have some potential. Then, as with Lexus, it is a case of clever brand nurturing over a number of years and a gradual onwards and upwards approach, but still emphasising value for money and offering products that motorists actually want to buy.

    Then again, look at how we had dismissed similar budget brands from the Far East over the years such as Daewoo, Hyundai and Proton. All have moved on from their initial reheated old offerings to more creditable new designs for those not into badge snobbery.

  56. But GM admitted defeat with the Daewoo brand and made it Chevrolet didn’t they?
    Hyundai is getting there, but proton still is very unsuccessful by comparison

  57. @Mark and David Look at two cars, the Picanto and the KIA GT. One shows how the Far East can make such improvements in such a short time, and the other what they can do.

    Roewe, Glorious Power eh? God help them if they do become successful in Europe and decide to go to America. Glorious Power+Faux-British Chinese Car marque+ Americans= Missile Crisis!

  58. I don’t think they will ever be more than a budget low volume manufacturer in the UK, perhaps comparable with Proton, they are not even in the same league as Kia and Hyundai and can’t see them ever getting to that status in the UK. Just look at the new Kia Optima, probably the best looking car in that segment, and well built with a good engine. The Chinese are good a copying things badly, not producing innovative and quality products.

    Think how long it has taken Kia and hyundai to get to the point they have now where they can take on the big boys, its only really the last 3 years they have started to produce worthy cars, and they have been in the UK for decades.

    Sadly unless they are cheap, safe and economical they wont sell anything. And the few they do sell will be to fans of the rover brand, who to be fair have been used to buying poorly made cars based on out of date designs so perhaps they will be willing to ignore the fact there new car will be worthless in 3 years time with no dealers left and no spare parts.

  59. @David 3500

    AFAIK, SAIC have used the MG brand on all Roewe vehicles sold outside of China and I don’t see that changing any time soon. They’d have to invest millions just to get Roewe off the ground, and for what? Couldn’t they just use MG?

    Keith mentions the MG/Rover demarcation of 2001-2005, but has he forgotten how disastrous the repositioning of Rover as a “relaxed luxury” brand was? Under BMW and MGR, the Rover brand’s reputation atrophied. Buick-Pontiac, another such brand pairing, ended in tears, with GM eventually deciding to kill Pontiac and give Buick all the sporty, progressive models.

    If there is a successful halo model (eg. a new MG sports car, or an MG6 X-Power that can go toe-to-toe with the Astra VXR), then the MG brand could survive whatever slightly softer models are sold under it. There would be no need for Roewe. MG could organically develop a multifaceted brand identity with a sporting focus.

    Give it a few decades of continuous improvement and they’d end up with the Anglo-Chinese BMW.

    MG is one of SAIC’s great advantages over Geely et al. If they want another brand to fight Geely in overseas markets, it should not be on the same level as MG in the brand hierarchy. It should be more like the Baojun brand of SAIC-GM Wuling: cheap as chips and uncomplicated; a high-volume brand whose main purpose is to maximise economies of scale for the more high-end, high-margin brand (MG).

    @Mark Mastro

    Good point about Chevrolet. That brand eventually proved to be the former Daewoo Motors’ ticket to international success.

    However, the brand was very much alive when GM began selling Daewoos as Chevrolets. Even outside of North America, the Chevy bow-tie was used on all sorts of vehicles, mostly sourced from other GM divisions and partners, albeit.

    The same could not be said for most of the former BL/MGR brands proposed for revival. Unlike Chevrolet, they’d have to be revived from near-total obscurity.

  60. What a lot of you are still failing to grasp is how worthless the MG brand is here in the UK. The very high profile collapse destroyed any real chance of a resurgence of the company. The last of the line real MG’s were just re badged, very old Rovers, and the company will not shake off that stigma here in the UK. You seem to be ignoring that psychology has a lot to do with sales, and the MG brand here in the UK is deeply buried in the subconscious of peoples minds that MG means failure. No matter how much they try, they will not change peoples minds. Since the collapse, people have gone elsewhere (Hyundai and Skoda mainly), and have now become loyal to each brand, and Skoda has now become VW’s cash cow, thanks to very good cars, a brilliant PR machine, and insane waiting lists, which are really helping pump up used values, and constant high scores in reliability surveys.

  61. “Even outside of North America, the Chevy bow-tie was used on all sorts of vehicles, mostly sourced from other GM divisions and partners, albeit.”

    As i understand it Chevrolet is basically GM’s budget brand, much like Skoda is to VW.

  62. @ Marty B

    I am not sure how old you are (I seem to recall you mentioned in anotehr thread you are not yet 20), but your perception of how people view MG in the UK is deeply flawed. Plus, there are glaring contradictions in some of your comments.

    You say MG will never repesent more than failure in the UK -then in the next breath say people have gone to Hyundai & Skoda. Do you honestly know what people thought of these cars since they were first launched outside their home markets & arrived in the UK & North America? It has taken Hyundai the best part of 20 years to gain any sort of positive reputation, and even Skoda themselves made jokes in TV adverts about owners getting Skoda badges stuck on their cars by vandals.

    You also mentioned the reason Skoda are where they are today – VW. They did not get there under their own steam. The chances are they would have disappeared long ago under the weight of their own garbage.

    The MG brand survived the closure of Abingdon and was reborn thanks to the MG Metro. The Rover 75 was 2 years old when the ZT came out, the 25/200 and 45/400 around 6 years old – hardly ‘very old Rovers’.

    It seems you are a very glass-half-empty man when it comes to MG and I don’t think you know nearly enough about what has happened with the brand over the past 30 or so years judging by your comments.

    Also as far as a failed brand goes – check out the number of MG owners’ clubs in the country, the number of Z’s that are still running around (and Rovers for that matter with the ‘disastrous’ K Series) and car shows during the year. I don’t think you’ll find too many people sharing your viuew that MG represents failure.

  63. @Paul T – not wishing to be nasty about it (you obviously care a lot about MG), but, if there are so many MG enthusiasts and owners out there, where were they in ’04-’05 when MGR so desperately needed sales? I am a huge Alfa Romeo fan and owner, and, again, there are loads of them milling around, and loads of websites, blogs and owner’s clubs. However, AR still don’t shift enough units to be considered a volume manufacturer, (or for that matter viable, if rumblings coming out of FIAT are to be believed). One reason why, in the UK at least is that the general buying public’s perceptions are based on ARs of old, the rusty, unreliable ones, in much the same way that Lancia will always be judged by the infamous ‘That’s Life’ TV campaign. If I had a pound for the times that I get gyp for owning an ‘unreliable’ Italian car…….

  64. @Simon

    You can be an enthusiast all you want, people can’t just conjur money up to by an over-priced outdated car (25 R3 was 8-9 years old by then, as was the 45/HHR)

  65. @ Simon Hodgetts

    People can only own so many cars – if they bought one in 2004, like my father and I did, are you expecting us to go out and spend £16K each on another one in 2005 just to demonstrate my loyalty? The ‘where were you when they needed you’ argument is used far too often and is totally unrealistic and long redundant.

    They didn’t help themselves by over-production when there weren’t folk there to buy the cars – BMW have at least got that bit right by building cars when they are ordered, rather than stockpiling them in a disused airfield in the hope that someone will come along and buy them. I recall a news report at the time they went bust that said the value of cars lying unsold would probably have been equivalent to the sum needed to keep them afloat – which speaks for itself.

    I disagree with your assertion that people’s perceptions are of old, unreliable rusty Austin Rovers – another tired, irrelevant argument. They had moved on a long way in terms of quality and reliability from the bad old days of the 70’s and 80’s. I think that is pretty much borne out by the fact people ONLY seem to be able to carp on about K Series frailties and not much else. Even those are grossly over-stated considering how many of the things are running around.

    I still find it incredible that some people who claim to be enthusiasts constantly put the boot into Rover/MG etc without any effort at finding anything positive to say. They must have some serious issues if they spend their time coming on here venting their bile without seeing anything good in the cars that are the subject of this site. Fine, if they think the current crop of MGs are crap and that SAIC are a joke I don’t have a problem with that. Each to their own, even with respect to the older cars. All I can say is:


  66. I still think Austin is worth a punt, whilst I thought it should not have been killed off just as products were about to get a whole lot better, the fact that it did die 25 years ago is actually a good thing. Many people will remember mostly the recent history which has focused almost entirely on Rover. I know some poeple will remmeber Austin, some fondly I hasten to add, and that might have an impact but no more than most brands, even the ones still oing – the number of people who cringe at the mention of Jaguar still surprises me “old man’s cars those…” If we only used brands that had 100% loyalty or desirability to 100% of people we wouldn;t have any brands to use. I still think Austin sounds more pallatable than Morris.

  67. @ James

    As a youngster, I always saw Austin with their wavy grilles as the posher versions than Morrises with their straight ones – don’t ask me to explain a 6-year-old’s logic!

    With Jaguar, I also recall in my late teens that you could pick up a car for buttons as they had attained a reputation as being pretty unreliable and generally rubbish cars (the big saloons at any rate). How that has changed over the last 30 years.

  68. Oi – Paul T – read my post again. I’m talking about Alfa Romeo – A lfa, R omeo, not A ustin R over. And I am actually (if you bother to read my post) talking about how weary I am of people making the same biased observations over my choice of car, based on an old, long gone reputation, as are most Austin Rover fans of their cars. As for the assertion that my point about ‘where were you when MG Rover needed you’ – if more people had bought the cars, the manufacturer we all love (ie MG Rover, nor A lfa R omeo) would still be in business. Jeez.

  69. And also, Paul T, I don’t have any real criticism of AR cars, or the new SAIC MGs – again, read my posts – there’s 7 years worth on this website. Is that enthusiastic enough for you?

  70. Well, I think we all pretty much agree that Rowee won’t make the grade over here and won’t be very welcome if foisted upon us.
    MG itself will I think come good again. Things are coming together with the BTTC announcement, particularly with the backing of Tesco and the Sun. We just need more dealers and that should happen wuth the expected publicity.
    Within two years the more affordable MG 3 and 5 will be with us and I for one feel that they will be quite successful. Once established I feel there is scope for a little ‘badge engineering’, old fashioned though the concept may be. It did work up to a point for MGR, at least for MG. It certainly worked for BMC, the Nuffield Group and Rootes. None of those three companies went bust, they were absorbed after which direction was lost.
    So I don’t think we are regarding the possible return of Austin, Morris or Wolseley with rose tinted specs entirely, it has to be a sensible business model, and there is sense in it because all were highly successful in their own time.
    Austin was a strong and very broad brand. It is far from forgotten, crikey it was one of the foremost world leaders in small cars between the 1920’s and 1980’s.
    Morris and Wolseley are of course the original fit with MG through the old Nuffield Group. It would be nice to see them together again.
    I’m sure non sporty verions of the MG 3 and 5 would sell as either an Austin or Morris and probably in greater volume as they always have done. Sporty versions of any manufacturers range are always the niche sellers. I think the MG Metro achieved 15% of the Austin Metro sales and that was thouht to be good, which shows how well MGR did with the ZR/Rover 25 at about 50% each towards the end.
    So, yes, we need a basic brand to support MG, either Austin or Morris, but not both!
    I am sure there is still a wish to buy British which accounts at least in part to the relative continued success of Ford and Vauxhall in the UK, and Mini, JLR and our top brands abroad. Everyone knows that the actual cars may not be produced here but that is the same with everything these days. Brand, heritage and value are ever more important in today’s world and SAIC has the ability to provide all three qualities in spades!

  71. “It certainly worked for BMC, the Nuffield Group and Rootes. None of those three companies went bust, they were absorbed after which direction was lost.”

    Well arguably that’s like saying RBS didn’t go bust. BMC were basically going bust and were only saved by the shotgun wedding with Leyland at which point it was discovered that BMC had already lost their direction and had no new models in the pipeline.

  72. Roewe rocks, and I’m not being ironic. I can see the lion symbol adorning dealerships, stationary, leisure wear, and of course cars.

  73. @ Simon

    Calm down, son, don’t take it personally!!

    You may well have been talking about Alfa Romeo as you clim, but your comments were obviously a direct response to my comments to Marty B. I would suggest that you also re-read your post and I think I have not read you wrong.

    Seven years? Well done.

  74. I didn’t even read Mary B’s post you idiot. I was only writing about Alfa Romeo. The only ever person to call me ‘son’ is my dad. You have read me wrong – I’d like an apology. What is my clim?

  75. Very interesting commemts made, I also want to see MG do well, I am sure I have mentioned in previous comments, that MG slow to get of the mark with TV adverts, also completitive price and offer structring is required, we mention that the use of Morris or Austin only as the MG branding is related and could work. Morris and Austin made quaility cars and what I seen from 750 adverts quaililty seemed be part of brand. Shame that the car was not available earlier so to set up a market base in the UK ready for MG. I know the Metro MGs did quite well in sales, but I remember that the Austin GTa looked more sporty than the MG version. Regards Mark

  76. @ Simon

    Apology? Retract the idiot comment and the sarcasm about the typo and I’ll think about it.

    Francis quite rightly ripped me for having a go about his spelling in one of his posts a while back, however it seems you feel the need to resort to insults to try and gain an upper hand. Maybe putting in seven years’ worth of comments allows you to take this attitude. At least I could see the error of my ways on that one.

    Also, who is Mary B?

  77. Aye, very good. Obviously so perfect you see no flaws.

    To be honest the only reason I put the last comment up was to get my stats from 399 to 400, not through any desire to keep an argument going with you. I’ve had enough of that nonsense before on this site and have no desire to continue this one either.

    I’ll leave you to it “sunshine”.

  78. Maybe a joint venture from the Chinese would be a plan. Maybe a brutish sportscar hmmm
    Austin-Geely 3000 anyone? 😉

  79. I don’t think it would work. The problem being, everybody in Europe still has in the corner of their mind “Rover went pop and was sold off to China” (eventhough not right). So if a new Rover (spell it how you want to ;)) was to arise from the ash, then people would get a little “suspicious”.

    If Tata bought a new Rover out, under the name “Rover”, then okay. They have Land Rover and Range Rover. A Town Rover or a B-Road Rover could maybe work.

    Here in Germany, most people see Rover as a badly/poorly built car (most!) with bad reliablity and high costs. So it wouldn’t work here. No matter what they call it. Thrus, the former 75 current 750(?) is an outdated shape. It would need a totally new appearance to be classed “new”.

  80. It’s sad to even have this discussion at the end of the day now the only reasonably British (even though Indaian owned) car to buy is JLR. At least they are good, unless you read the German press, cars.

  81. I’ve just seen a few Adverts tonight for Chrysler, the rehashed Lancias and the good looking new 300.

    Could SAIC team up with someone (Geely Volvo?) or buy a manufacturer?

  82. @ Andy J:

    Very good, you made me laugh with that suggestion! A facsimilie of an old British sports car design built in China, complete with a rhyming name to give it enough association with the real thing, but not quite enough to infringe copyright laws. Yes, that would likely work for the Chinese car industry.

  83. Most of the more recent “lost marques” have an image problem that precludes a successful revival of the name……close your eyes and think “Morris” or “Riley” and what do you see?

    I would suggest using names that died when they still had some merit, such as
    TROJAN, LANCHESTER or, gee, really struggling to think of a third one……..what happened to the British Motor Industry…..remind me…..

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