The Long Road To Longbridge: MG Reborn In England

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
the long road to longbridge mg reborn in england

How about this for a world upside down: Instead of producing foreign cars in China, the Chinese will produce a foreign car, developed in China, in a foreign country. Such will be the case for the MG6. In a way.

China’s SAIC will manufacture its self-developed MG6-series sedan at its U.K. plant and sell the sedans across the European Union by the end of the year, SAIC’s chairman said to Reuters.

“The idea is to take advantage of the existing MG sales network in the European Union as well as the cost advantage in China,” Hu Maoyuan told Reuters on the sidelines of Shanghai’s annual People’s Political Consultative Conference.

SAIC ended up owning MG Rover’s 10,000-unit Longbridge plant in Birmingham, after SAIC bought Nanjing Automobile Group in late 2007. They did not get the Rover brand, BMW had sold that brand to Ford, which in turn sold it to Tata, along with Jaguar and Land Rover.

Slighted SAIC then launched their Roewe brand, which hasn’t made a big splash in China. Supposedly, “Roewe” sounds like “Rover” in China, but nobody in the West will get the pun.

And to be true, “self developed” is a bit of a stretch. The MG6 is based on the Roewe 550, which is based on the platform of the Rover 75. So by being produced in Birmingham, a bit of merry old England is returning to the Old Blighty.

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8 of 13 comments
  • Mr Carpenter Mr Carpenter on Jan 25, 2010

    I know MG cars are sold in Chile, may be sold in other South American nations, as well. In photos, I've seen the production machinery taken out of Longbridge for shipment to China, so obviously either SAIC have to either buy new, send it back, or - more likely in my humble opinion - simply assemble CKD kits in Longbridge. But as Cammy says, any jobs sent into the UK is one more job that wasn't there before so that's at least a good thing. Plus exporting a portion of the cars to the mainland EC nations will enable some improved balance of trade compared to just importing CBU (completely built up) cars from China into the UK and Europe.

    • DweezilSFV DweezilSFV on Jan 25, 2010

      Yes, Chile. And yes the tooling and production machinery was "lifted and shifted" to China when Nanjing took over. Great book on the subject: "End Of The Road" which chronicles the fall of MG Rover and the back story of it's BMW tie up.

  • Tstag Tstag on Jan 25, 2010

    Poor investigative journalism by TTAC! MG and Roewe cars are actually designed by ex MG Rover engineers in the UK now based at Longbridge. Get your stories right please.

  • Another_pleb Another_pleb on Jan 25, 2010

    Surely if they wanted, "to take advantage of the existing MG sales network in the European Union", they would need to build a few DeLoreans first, with the flux capacitor option fitted of course.

  • Sinistermisterman Sinistermisterman on Jan 25, 2010

    I am shocked. To be quite honest I never, ever thought any kind of car manufacturing would go back to Longbridge, even if it is just 're-assembly'. I guess the weak pound makes life a little easier. It'll take a lot of time and money to get Longbridge operational again. The plant was running on some very old infrastructure and when the last worker left, the doors were locked and nobody has touched the site since. If anybody is interested, check out these photos where somebody snuck inside the closed plant:

    • DangerousDave DangerousDave on Jan 25, 2010

      Very cool pictures. Looks like they just turned out the lights, locked the door one night and never came back.