By on November 23, 2012

MG, now owned by Chinese auto maker SAIC, is apparently gunning for Kia and beyond. But despite their lofty ambitions, MG hasn’t made much headway in the automotive world.

Despite being on sale for a few years (and garnering some positive reviews) MG has sold less than 1,000 cars in the UK – the only European market where its cars are sold. MG’s dismal sales have been blamed on the lack of a diesel option for its mid-size MG6, which competes in a segment where a majority of the cars sold are diesel versions purchased for fleet use.

A diesel engine is now available and MG is expanding sales into Scandinavia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Two new compact cars, a crossover and a city car will be added by 2016. The new models will all be built in England at the old MG Rover plant in Longbridge, but the brand has a long way to go if they want to catch up to the 90,000 units sold annually in China.

One analyst interviewed by Automotive News was less than optimistic about MG’s prospects

“Kia [and Hyundai] have invested a great deal in marketing, sales networks and creating this positive brand image, which I can’t see SAIC being prepared for…I really don’t see them being able to get anywhere near where Kia is now by the end of the decade.”

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19 Comments on “MG Gunning For Kia; Bet You Never Imagined Hearing That...”

  • avatar

    With a design like that they’ll never make it. Kia is light years ahead.

  • avatar

    “…I really don’t see them being able to get anywhere near where Kia is now by the end of the decade.” –Or ever.

    • 0 avatar

      Matter of time…. SAIC is GM and VW’s “joint partner” in China. They currently manufacture every Buick sold in China, as well as a host of VW models. In terms of resources, it has considerably more than what Kia is able to avail from Hyundai.

      MG was always intended to be the “thin edge of the wedge” in testing the waters for SAIC’s products in Europe. Unlike the crap that Chery and Geely is hawking in third world countries, SAIC has long-term plans to be a player in western markets.

      While it is clearly behind Kia in numbers today, it is much closer to be akin to Hyundai in the early 90s. Let’s see how this plays out in the next twenty years.

  • avatar

    It’s rather sad to see an old and honoured name attached to something that reflects nothing of the make’s proud history, like the Magnette, a stylish, sporting car.

    • 0 avatar

      Emotionally I agree. Rationally, it’s just more metal, glass and polymers. No reason SAIC can’t combine those things in a pleasing way befitting the marque’s history, plenty of reasons why they probably won’t.

      But I don’t think their management/marketing has a clue as to how repellent it is to most Westerners when lost mystiques of Anglo history are glued onto cheap Asian products.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not sure what to make of this brand.

      @Pan, the problem is that the “proud history” is so far back in time as to be virtually irrelevant. My Dad drove an MG Magnette saloon (sedan) when I was a kid and it was quite nice with it’s leather seats, plush woolen carpets and walnut dash and door caps.

      I think it was a 1956 or ’57 model, which is now over 50 years ago, and it was just a badge-engineered Austin/Morris.

      The only other MGs made since then have all been similar. Even the MGB could just as easily have been badged as a Triumph or Healey or any other brand that BMC owned. The fact they chose MG didn’t make it any more relevant to the marque’s history.

      No, in my mind the last true MG was the MGA so what the Chinese are doing now isn’t making much difference to how that stands in history.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree that the MG A model is beautiful. I own a 1956 MGA Roadster that I bought in 1969. I’m second owner and she has about 40,000 actual miles. It’s a survivor… not restored. Safety Fast!

  • avatar

    MG beating Kia? Not for 20 years, if ever.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know how you can make a statement like that. 20 years ago who would have thought Kia would become a mainstream brand?

      Maybe the MG name is clouding your judgement?

      If you are saying that SAIC is not capable of building a viable brand over the next 20 years then please, by all means, enlighten us as to your reasoning.

      Of course, you may well be correct but I for one am not capable of predicting the automotive markets for 20 years and I am pretty damned sure nobody else is either.

      • 0 avatar

        Good point. In 1992, could you have predicted that Plymouth, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Mercury, Sterling and SAAB would no longer be sold? Okay, Sterling, maybe SAAB, but OLDSMOBILE? How about the Buick LeSabre, Century, Regal and Park Avenue? Or the Cadillac DeVille and Fleetwood? Those makes and models were around for a long time, and have disappeared. Twenty years is a long, long time.

      • 0 avatar

        Here’s how:
        Kia is on an upward trajectory, much like Toyota was in 1992. Meanwhile, MG can’t get traction. A lot of things would have to occur to cause MG to not only get sales/support traction, but to catch Kia as Kia continues to climb skyward. And those things take time.

  • avatar

    Everyone once in a while I have to remind myself that MG still, inexplicably, exists. Much like the XPower SV, the company is just some weird mish-mash of someone else’s cars. Nice styling though- at least that’s mostly original.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Gordon

      “Much like the XPower SV, the company is just some weird mish-mash of someone else’s cars.”

      MG has never been anything else. From the Morris Minor based M-Type to the Metro based MGF they’ve all been bitsa cars.

    • 0 avatar

      MG is arguably more unique now than it has been in decades, since this is actually the first time in generations that their mainstream products don’t share sheetmetal with anything else. Prior to the creation of BMC, MGs were generally partsbin specials cobbled out of Morris components, during the BMC and BL periods, they were largely badge engineered Austins, and under Rover and MG Rover, they were rebadged Rovers. Only the sports cars were ever really unique, and even then they shared a lot under the skin.

  • avatar

    I hope they make it work .


  • avatar

    Aside from the lack of a diesel, the other big issues are the pathetic dealership network and almost total lack of marketing. You can’t sell a car that people don’t know about, and you certainly can’t sell a car that nobody can find.

    The few MG dealers that are around have little to no signage and tend to have just 1 or 2 cars in inventory, usually shoved back into a dimly lit corner of the showroom.

    The 6 is decent value, basically it’s a large family car that sells for the price of a small family car, and even the base models are fairly well equipped for the price. The lack of a diesel really is killer though, and the fact that it’s a sort of middle of the road product – good, but not quite great – isn’t the best thing in such a highly competitive market.

    The bottom line is that I doubt SAIC is really interesting in making a big push in the UK at all. They keep the Longbridge plant ticking over as a loss leader in order to give MG more credibility as a “British” brand for Chinese consumers. If they sell a few in the UK on the side, that’s a bonus, if they don’t, no big deal. They’re making enough cash in China to more than cover it.

  • avatar

    Eventually maybe, in 10 years? with the designs Kia is producing and the reliability that the Hyundai/Kia platforms are showing right now? I don’t think so.

    SAIC might be able to move beyond being a design by committee type corporation but the way things work here in China culturally, I highly doubt it.

    Which means they are going to be as bland or more bland than Toyota without the brand cachet or reliability that Toyota has taken 40+ years to develop.

  • avatar

    Forget the toast that MG’s pumping now. Sell the badge to KIA – see if they can pull a Miata with an MG badge – why not? That’s just starters. Expand into an MG sport variant of the sedan range and race Alfa in the NA market.

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