EngagingChina has always had a place in its heart for MG cars so its good to see that the historic marque will once again take to the roads.
Chinese roads to be precise. UK customers with the nostalgia bug may
have to wait to get their hands on the new MG TF sports car, production
of which started this week at Nanjing Automotive Group's factory in
“We are keeping the original British flavour but in the future, the
major market for MG will be in China,” said Zhang Xin, general manager
of the Nanjing subsidiary making the cars.
A racing green MG TF two-seater convertible, a copy of the original
British model, was unveiled at the Nanjing plant. So too were two
MG7-series saloon cars, but they are hardly going to set pulses racing
— at least not this writer's pulse.
According to a UK press report,
around 80 dealers in Britain have expressed interest in franchises for
the reborn MG brand. But it is clear that Nanjing has bigger plans than
selling to a niche market of nostalgic MG lovers in the UK.
The company says there is still a role for the UK, but as an R&D
centre and with limited production of “high-end, value-adding”
products. That most likely means right-hand-drive MG TFs, limited
production of which is due to start in May at the legendary Longbridge
car plant outside Birmingham.
China, meanwhile, will be the company's main production centre, and responsible for developing domestic and overseas markets.
MG cars will be beyond the reach of the average Chinese buyer,
costing well over two years' salary. But Zhang said incomes in China
were rising so fast that the company believes that it can break even on
the MG project in little more than a year, and hoped for global sales
of 200,000 MG-brand cars annually after five years.
The Chinese firm acquired MG Rover's assembly lines, technology and
many of the firm's models two years ago for £53m following the collapse
of the UK's last independent carmaker.