Opinion : MG Europe’s electric model plans

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).

MG Marvel R

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.

Keith Adams
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17 Comments

  1. Another hit for MG5 buyers like the MK I 75 V8, where buyers received their car days before a MK II came out, that caused a lot of hassle and hacked off a lot of Rover/MG 75/ZT buyers, now they are doing the same with the MG5 – and the Marvel R is NOT coming to the UK – thats already been decided and from reports elsewhere, MG UK are not happy about it…. seems like the UK, was the first market outside ASIA that had New MG – they did little to push the brand, yet WE purchased thousands and thousands of them, they are now becoming a mainstream brand, with increased sales year after year, and now, they decide we are not good enough to have their new model when we buy more MG’s than the rest of the EU put together.

  2. In my very personal idea, just one thing:

    Please just don’t try to put MG badge on Roewe-designed cars, literally. While I can accept MGs like ZS and MG 3 since they were designed with their own clothings, MG 5 estate for Europe was too literally a Roewe with a MG moniker. That may help SAIC that entering European(especially Brithsh) market easier, but in a long-term sight, that woud hinder the why they got and use MG: to erase “Chinese” image and use the heritage for European preferances.

    Please, those who have responsibility for brand streagy for MG, think about more long-term brand usage. More and more of mainstream and reasonable brands like Seat, Skoda, Dacia, Hyundai-Kia are trying to build their own brand value and identity. “Price-Quality ratio” that Koreans were emphasizing in 20 years ago won’t last forever. MG needs to offer something more than that in the next decade to appeal itself to Europe.

    • MG5 another odd looking thing. Front OK in VW Passat kind of a way but things get worse as the eye moves towards the rear. What’s going on with the 1970s coke bottle waistline? And the car’s not long enough to allow that styling feature to reach a natural resolution. Bit of a mess really. Facelift will need to be a lot better.

  3. Odd to see commenters seeming to advise SAIC on what they do and don’t do with brands they have bought. Brands that were destroyed over a long period of years, in the UK, by people in the UK. These brands were effectively dead 30 odd years ago. Those of us outside the UK, who appreciated all of the marques up to the late 60s or early 70s, had their loyalty destroyed by all of the factors that led to the poor quality delivered by BL and AR. I for one don’t appreciate that it’s a Chinese company that’s got ownership of many of the BMC/BL brands – but – they do. They, of course, have every right to use these brands as they see fit. Brands which they have purchased, because the original owners, workers and unions destroyed them. Destroyed a heritage of craft and expertise. If the new cars are good enough – I might even buy one. Whether it’s MG or R (Roewe). Love to see them resurrect Morris, Austin and Wolseley too.

  4. Knowing how strict the laws on “passing off” can be – and remembering how in 1986, Harrod’s owner Mohammed Al Fayed launched a (failed) legal campaign against Henry Harrod, a New Zealand restaurant owner who wanted to name his own restaurant Harrod’s – how can there be any moral, mechanical or other connection between what Morris Garages built in Oxford in the 1920s and this product from Communist China?

    Oh yes – the sold-on Morris Garages trademark badge.

    Thanks to the absurd lawful ability for anyone to purchase any brand name (at the right price), this piece of 21st century machinery built by China’s state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation will be sold to – and lapped up by – capitalists content to boost the economy of the world’s largest totalitarian regime.

    What is meant by “The European operation is a separate arm of SAIC’s global push”? And by
    “The European model range mirrors the UK one”?

    Decades of EEC/EC/EU membership should have reinforced the fact that the British Isles are part of Europe. The land mass east of the English Channel is the region of Europe rightly known as Continental Europe (or The Continent). Just what territories does MG Europe sell to? And would SAIC Europe not be nearer to the (unpleasant) truth?

    To use the word marque here is a gross distortion of the past. Equally misleading is talking of the European market when not including that of the British Isles.

    Apart from that truly misused badge, why is this car being reviewed here at all?

  5. I think the MG5 looks sleek, balanced and well proportioned, far more attractive than SUVs with their oversized wheels and stem to stern “bloat”
    To anyone criticising the Chinese car makers, be aware that China is the number 1 position for car production, building 25 million cars per annum of which only about 1 million are exported, heaven help the European car makers when China becomes export minded

    • Didn’t realise the revised MG5 was pictured in the post. Erm, well I wouldn’t buy it. Blobby is the word that springs to mind. Anonymous too. When the Chinese do become export minded they’ll need to do better than this to tempt me.

      • I’ve driven one and it’s actually a pretty solid car. I own a ZS EV and it’s not a patch on that however, due to the 5 having worse seats, suspension being very soggy, etc. However, that being said – if taxi fleets are looking for an EV to start using then it would be ideal. Not too posh, acres of room in it (it’s larger than it appears in pictures). It’s just never going to sell to people who want badges in their driveway. It is what it is and far worse cars have made it into fleets over the years.
        As to the ZS, I love it. It probably could do with a tad more range but I drive it on a 36-mile round trip each day with one trip from King’s Lynn to St Albans per week and it’s brilliant. Comfy, loads of room and great to drive. Personally, I couldn’t give too hoots about the badge. I grew up with a plethora of BL rotboxes and I’m very glad it’s not the same company any more. The worst car I ever had the misfortune to have to travel in was my mum’s Rover 216. Rotten, constantly damp.. and my friends used to write ‘s**tbox* on the inevitable steam on the windows. So yeah. (/end rant)
        Also, our local MG dealer will let you test drive the cars for as long as you want, the only stipulation being that you have it back to them by 5:30!

    • Re “China being “the number 1 position for car production” – why should the country with the largest population in the world not also be largest in car production?

      As “when China becomes export minded”: China has been “export minded” since at least the 1970s. I bought (and ate) tinned Chinese duck in Zambia in 1974 (it included everything but the quack) when the Chinese were building the Tan-Zam railway line to link Zambia with Tanzania, so that its copper exports (presumably much of them destined for China) did not have to pass through Rhodesia to South Africa or Mocambique.

      I have ridden in railway carriages made in China in various parts of the world. The new standard gauge line from Mombasa to Nairobi completed in 2017 was built by China; who are supplying the Chinese locomotives and rolling stock.

      The trains China indebted Sri Lanka with have been much less reliable than the Indian and Japanese ones they were supposed to have superseded.

      Look around your home, and add up the number of “Made in China” items you own. It is often close to impossible to buy anything electronic that is not “Made in China”.

      Then there are the thousands of Chinese ‘students’ at universities around the world. Another ‘export’?

      Don’t forget Huawei, and that the state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corporation applied for permission to build a plant in Bradwell, Essex, which would be its first in a western country. Inkjet printers “Made in China” are lucky to still be working after a couple of years. Why are we even thinking of getting the Chinese to built a nuclear power station in the UK?

      Give a Pekinese an inch and it will take a mile.

      • The Chinese are NOT building it, they are funding it, like they fund everything, they are by FAR the biggest world bank, if they demanded back the money that the USA owes them today, the USA would be bankrupt over night, we owe them a lot too, so, I, along with many are getting seriously fed up to the back teeth of the racism thats going on these days.

        The Chinese make superior products, thats a fact, if they did not, then why would the companies that use them continue to make the items there, the cars are equally as good now, they have to be to be allowed to be sold here, or in Europe, they HAVE to pass a whole host of tests to get the rights to sell.

        Hoooie, well, that has NEVER BEEN PROVED that they are, have or will do anything wrong, it was just Trump kicking off and a few countries following suit, for no reason.

        it would be nice to have facts rather than conjecture and inaccuracies, EDF, the French company are the ones that are BUILDING the new fleet of power stations here, they, the British Government and the Chinese are funding it, Bradwell and Sizewell.

  6. MG remind me of where Hyundai where when they replaced their dark ages Pony with the Accent, a car that while rather plasticky and low rent, was a far more modern car than its predecessor and more acceptable to own. I think MG have some way to go, but their latest range of cars are tapping into the growing market for SUVs with electric and hybrid power.

  7. I would imagine the Marvel R is heading to Europe first solely because of LHD markets.

    The model has been available in China for more than two years so it would be easy (and cheap) to launch it in a large LHD market.

    It’s also being reported that the Marvel R won’t be available in Australia where MGs are in the Top 10 for sales. It’ll be interesting to see if they are developing it for RHD markets or will wait until a replacement model.

    When MG Motor has released new models in the UK, they have already been on sale in China for at least a year. The facelifted 3 and ZS were and the HS has already been facelifted and is now called Pilot/Navigator.

  8. Both the new MG 5 estate and the MG Marvel R are getting released here in Denmark by the end of the year.Denmark is still not set up for electric vehicles and is way behind Norway in charging points.Also there are only 5 dealers selling MG in Denmark at the moment.

  9. I also think the MG5 looks sleek, balanced and well proportioned, quite like the Astra K 1.6 petrol turbo SRI Sports tourer it is related to – CD 0.24.

    I do hope that they have retained the Opel inspired, torsion beam/coil spring rear suspension with Watts linkages, which gives the good handling and softer, boulevard ride – just like the related DeDion system does.

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