Opinion : Hello maybe, MG


Well, well, well… In posting the latest UK car sales figures, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) sprang something of a surprise – at least to me. Why? Well, what should we find towards the bottom of the Top Ten in the June list, but the MG HS.

The context of this result is an interesting one. Retail car sales are being squeezed by supply shortages and the Cost of Living Crisis, which means month on month, we’re seeing some very low numbers in the Top Ten. The MG HS’s appearance is most likely down to a large batch landing in the UK and being delivered within the same few weeks. Also, as MG looks towards becoming an EV-only brand, it’s likely that the HS won’t be with us for that much longer.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not seeing this as anything other than an anomaly. After all, 2020, 2021 and 2022 have been somewhat topsy-turvy when it comes to UK car sales with some very odd-looking charts in that time but, even so, the appearance of the MG HS has left me racking my brains wondering when pre-2005 MG was last in the position to post a Top Ten result.

Back in the heyday of the ADO16, sales of the MG version were lumped in with their Austin and Morris counterparts, so wouldn’t have been reported separately. And a quick scan of my back issues of What Car? magazine from the 1970s shows that the popular MGB most likely didn’t make it into the Top Ten, with a few Top Twenty appearances being the best it could muster. In the 1980s, the MG Metro was also a big seller, but it was reported by the SMMT as the Austin/MG Metro.

We probably need to look towards post-2001 and the arrival of the MG ‘Zed’ cars for a historical appearance for MG in the Top Ten. The ZR was oft-hailed as the best-selling hot hatch in the UK, with the same accolade being foisted upon the TF sports car. However, in the case of the ‘Zeds’, as popular as they were, they were outsold by their Rover counterparts, and as such didn’t make the list.

Either way, it was interesting to see an MG in the Top Ten again, after the ZS made it in November 2021. It’s a long way away from the days when MG Motor UK (remember that?) struggled to get into double figures for the slow-selling 6 almost a decade ago. The brand is slowly re-establishing (or is that simply establishing) itself as a credible force in the UK on the back of a range of worthy but dull SUVs and EVs. Excitement is around the corner – but that’s a story for a different day. For now, though, it’s appropriate to mark Chinese-owned MG’s second appearance in the Top Ten best-sellers’ list.

It’s probably also a good time to give MINI a round of applause. Month in, month out, Cowley continues to churn out cars at a decent volume (post-Issigonis MINIs have now outsold the original Mini). The MINI Hatch was the UK’s fourth best-selling car in 2021, and it’s held on to that position for the first half of 2022 – which is a good performance considering the F56-generation MINI is getting on a bit now. You can thank the arrival of the electric version for that uptick in popularity…

Keith Adams
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  1. “Well, well, well… In posting the latest UK car sales figures, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) sprung something of a surprise. At least to me. For in the June list, what should we find, but the MG HS towards the bottom of the Top 10.”

    Just to say that this is the UK, where we use British English. Therefore, ” the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) SPRANG something of a surprise”.

    • I have been a tad behind with my sub-editing this week thanks to channel-hopping between the Wimbledon coverage on BBC One/Two and the BBC News channel, but have now made some alterations to the opening paragraph which include the one which you have suggested.

  2. Very sad news to see Chinese -made cars entering British top-ten.This the beginning of something, let’s see how long it will take to see them in the top 3.

    • Philippe, my take on today’s MG is the same as yours. MG was once a truly British icon; much of the motoring press seems to think it still is.. Foreign ownership is something we’ve learned to live with — as long as manufacturing stays in Britain. But the fact is that MG is a Chinese import, masquerading as intrinsically British.

      • Peter, what a pity ! They also own Vanden Plas, Wolseley, Austin, Morris .. BMW still owns Riley and Triumph along Mini. I agree, foreign ownership no great problem while design and manufacturing are local like for Mini/RR/Bentley who have retained their britishness. JLR is in the same mood even though not that healthy nowadays. The Chinese also have purchased the German Borgward name but the German totally ignore such imports. Till now no Italian nor French, what about a Chinese Delahaye or Isotta Fraschini ?

  3. Hi Keith, I have an MG dealer just up the road in Sandycroft and a second 5 miles away at Cheshire Oaks. I have noticed an influx of new MG cars predominantly SUVs on the road, and on examination the quality seems on a par with Peugeot/Citroen cars of the same type. I wish the dealers, the importers and the company much success though I doubt I would swap my Skoda Kodiaq for one

  4. The new MG4 should bring even more sales to the range with a sub £30K price tag a 200+ mile range and a 7 year warrenty should ensure that MG will be a regular in the top ten UK sales. Perhaps the biggest problem for MG is getting enough cars to satisfy demand

  5. They are in the top `10 in Australia but the son of a friend works in a Sydney dealership and says they are over loaded with warranty work.

    • You mean like how BMW got so snowed under with all those recalls over self combusting cars equipped with cheap rubbish cables, so much so that any customer whose beemer was more than a couple of years old got a Vauxhall hire for months?

  6. “SAIC Motor, China’s largest automaker, sold 322,000 vehicles in February, up 30.6% year on year…..” statement dated March 2022 seen on SAIC website today. Equivalent to around 3.8 million per year, or around twice what UK auto factories produce in a good year.
    Same web page says they want to shift 120,000 MG and Maxus vehicles in Europe this year. Thin end of a very big and disruptive wedge I tell you!

  7. I liked the design of the MG6 and even lesser known Magnette (but I prefer saloons and hatch’s anyway). Good to see the MG “brand” is now having some success in the UK again though I am not in the market for a Crossover or SUV type.

    • Why is it good that the MG brand is having success in this county? These cars come from a country with a highly questionable approach to human rights and which is currently eyeing up Taiwan with a view to invading, the consequences of which will make the Ukraine situation seem like one of Johnson’s drinks parties. Just wondering. And nobody mention iPhones as justification please!

      • I could not agree more, Standhill . And leaving aside ethical considerations, why should this Chinese product be any better than the other rubbish that comes from mainland China?

      • Don’t get me wrong, I wish MG was still a British built car but China seems to build everything nowadays and this has consequences being so dependent on them.

        As they are concentrating on Crossover / SUV’s in Europe I am unlikely to want to buy one. Having said that, my sister in law owns a ZS and speaks highly of it. I am an ex 2003 MG ZS Hatchback owner!

      • Agreed, why should it be seen as good news that a foreign owned and foreign manufactured product is making gains in the UK especially one which comes from a country which is so aggressively anti democratic. We need to be developing a design and manufacturing base in the UK to balance what has become an economy focused far to much on intangibles. MG as a brand today has has nothing to do with Morris Garages of decades ago. Whilst avoiding all out xenophobia it is surely worth considering where we source our imports from and not merely thinking about saving a few pounds. Support those countries with similar human rights standards to our own and our allies and dump those that rely on cheap labour to undermine proper acceptable working conditions.

  8. No one wanted the 6, it was a petrol turbo large family car in an era when this genre of cars was dying out and the dealer network was sparse and underfunded. Now MG has been relaunched as a budget brand of SUVs, a much bigger dealer network has been appointed, and the cars come with a 7 year warranty and plenty of standard equipment. Also the ZS looks like a Qashqai and is an OK drive.

  9. I have no strong feelings either way towards these MGs, other than thinking that they have the wrong badge on.

    The last 40 years has shown that you don’t need to use a “heritage” brand to build up sales, as with the right product people are happy to buy Toyotas, Nissans, Hyundais, Kias, Teslas etc. Would any of these companies have sold more cars if they were badged with the name of a defunct car marque?

  10. @maestrowoff wonder whether the Mini range would have had success without Mini brand and nostalgia
    SAIC is preparing a “Morris commercial” badged EV van with a Morris J flavour, this could make it.
    Ok it’s made in China, not at-all a democracy …
    Without any of the feeling nor flavour the badge has no added value.

    • The BMW Minis though are clearly a “follow” on product from the original, as with the Fiat 500 and LR Defender, whereas the modern MGs aren’t trading on heritage at all.

  11. I wonder if MG had made a bigger commitment to Longbridge, with more British input and a couple of thousand people assembling the latest MGs, if people would be so negative about the brand. Problem was the 6 that was assembled from a kit in Longbridge was almost invisIble and the dealer network was in penny numbers, so SAIC decided to move rhd production back to China and move into the more lucrative SUV market.

    • I remember it took ages for me to actually see an MG6 on the road & the advertising campaign made Daewoo’s seem like viral marketing.

      It was after the MG3 launched that I first started to see them in decent numbers.

      • @ Richardpd, there is a 14 plate MG6 near me, but that’s the only one I’ve ever seen locally, as the nearest dealer was 100 miles away. A couple of MG3s are around locally, one with black and yellow colours like a wasp, as a dealer was appointed 40 miles away, but the SUV models seem to be selling steadily and gaining in popularity.

  12. MG closed their order book for 2022 several months ago, it seems MG have sold off their CO2 emissions quota / penalty to another manufacturer. prior to the closure, a friend ordered an MG HS in July 2021 with a quoted delivery of October 2021, as October approached the delivery slipped to February (perhaps March) 2022, car delivered and owner happy with the car, the price was very good and he took the higher trim level car model

  13. Can we get some clarification on where UK market MG’s are actually built – RHD models for World markets are supposed to come out of their factory in Thailand? Look out also for Maxus (LDV) SUV’s vans and pickups..

  14. Just had an HS Exclusive petrol for a week from MG – its new PR agency Loop is making positive steps to get cars ‘out there’ with the media. Not a bad effort and a 7/10 from me. Just been on the mindboggling SAIC website – no mention of the 3 there sadly and it looks like the wonderful MG E Motion is dead in the water…

  15. We go on about the oh so British MG being made in China by a Chinese corporation who bought the badge, but perhaps we should look at some other brands. Fiat, that most Italian of cars, is part of a conglomerate that involves Chrysler, the European part of General Motors and Peugeot Citroen and makes all its cars in Poland and Serbia. Also most smaller Renaults are made in Eastern Europe.

  16. Thank goodness for Nissan Sunderland then – providing jobs at the main factory and lots of suppliers in the UK.

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