For anyone who’s been vaguely following the MG story here in the UK, it’s been interesting to see parent company SAIC reinvent its most historic brand as an electric car manufacturer – with the MG ZS EV and MG 5 both offering (relatively) low cost plug-in motoring in the UK. It’s experiencing growth on the ‘home’ market, too. But what is a recent development is that, more than 15 years after leaving it the first time, the marque looks to be finally taking the European market seriously.
Holland-based MG Motor Europe kicked off its sales operations late 2019 and has been slowly opening up importers across the EU since. So, you can buy a new MG in Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Malta, Italy, Spain and Portugal – and, from next month, MG will be on sale in Sweden too. The European operation is a separate arm of SAIC’s global push, and that means we’re getting word of the company’s models nice and early, much – I suspect – to the annoyance of MG’s executives here in the UK. Interesting…
The European model range mirrors the UK one – it offers the MG ZS EV and MG HS Plug-in Hybrid like us (badged as the ZS And EHS respectively). The 3 is not available in Europe, nor are the HS and ZS in petrol form, which makes sense given MG Europe’s positioning as an electrified brand. It’s also intriguing that the new Marvel R Electric SUV (above) has been announced over there already, with a confirmation that it’s going hit Europe – and not the UK – in May. You know the score – it’s what MG Europe calls a ‘high-tech lifestyle SUV with a powerful Tri-Motor electric powertrain, a range of more than 400km and a spectacular interior with a 19.4-inch ‘floating’ touchscreen’ (below).
Thanks to MG Europe, we have also had an early sighting of the facelifted MG 5 EV SW (below) – although the model has only been launched here recently, it has already carved itself a bit of a niche as the first electric estate car offered for a lower price than many electric superminis. It’s easy to see why MG Europe is repositioning MG as an EV brand – the shift in vehicle fuelling is allowing car companies across the board to reposition themselves thoroughly, and reason enough for Jaguar Land Rover recently to proclaim that the entire Jaguar range would be all-new and electric by 2025.
According to Julia Poliscanova, Senior Director for Vehicles and Emobility at Transport & Environment, stricter CO2 standards are the main reason for the growth in the number of electric cars. She said: ‘One in seven new passenger cars sold in Europe, or 15% of total sales, will be an EV or plug-in hybrid PHEV by the end of 2021. The electric car is finally entering the mainstream in Europe.’
Sitting as an observer to this transformation of the automotive industry, it’s been interesting to see how the carmakers are stepping up to the challenge. MINI and Audi have already said that their next ICE-powered vehicles will effectively be their last, while Aston Martin says that internal combustion engines will be the playthings of the rich within a few short years. However, I really do hope that the carmakers are completely on top of what buyers want and need – infrastructure still has so far to go. Nine years is a long time, but not that long…
For now, it’s also interesting that we’re going to be getting early sight of MG’s future model plans via our friends in Europe. We’ve been here before, of course, getting early sight of upcoming MG models time and time again thanks to a very different model strategy back in China, where it looks like the company has been investing billions in the brand – unlike here in the UK.