Slowly, gently: MG returns to Longbridge
Finally, Nanjing Automobile Corp. has announced its plans for MG TF production at Longbridge, England.
Company president Yu Jianwei has told the British press that £10 million will initially be invested in the former MG Rover plant. Production begins early 2007 for mid-2007 sales.
It’s wisely starting small, with 80 people currently at the plant—a far cry from the 6,000 who were there when MG Rover collapsed last year.
Production is slated to be 12,000 to 15,000, using CKD kits imported from Red China.
As expected by some MG Rover watchers such as Michael Wynn-Williams at The Unofﬁcial Austin Rover Resource, NAC will establish an R&D centre at Longbridge. Michael had written last week:
If we assume that TF production will match GT production, and so utilises the same 500 assembly workers, then this leaves 500 left over kicking their heels. This is around the size of the previous MG Rover vehicle development strength and leads me to believe that the weight of vehicle design will take place in Longbridge. My guess is that the University of Oklahoma R&D facility will be engaged simply in federalising these designs. The actual reason for its existence is almost certainly linked contractually to the funding coming from the state. Were Oklahoma to become the world centre for MG design then we wouldn’t see another new model for up to ﬁve years, certain death for the brand.
Meanwhile, Automotive News reports that NAC will indeed Federalize the MG Rover cars for the American market.
These are all prudent moves: starting production on a small scale, gaining expertise, and ensuring that the quality can remain high. More importantly, Nanjing has found itself with a brand that has immense equity globally—speeding its entry into American and European markets. That is the key to all of this: the timing, the investment, the news coverage, the expansion. All of this has followed the brand.
Regardless of the size of its local competitors like Chery or China Brilliance, NAC has leap-frogged them. Not only that, the media and the public are fast getting used to the idea that NAC is the parent of MG, more quickly than they accepted that Proton owns Lotus.
It just needs to sort out the intellectual property situation over MG, and be particularly wary of whether Red Chinese rival SAIC will get the Rover name off BMW for its models. There may be less equity in Rover now, but it’s still a recognizable brand.
NAC’s biggest threat is not whether SAIC can make more cars, or throw more money at doing so. Its biggest threat is knowing that two can play the brand game.
Del.icio.us tags: brand branding NAC MG MG Rover SAIC Posted by Jack Yan, 13:47
these were good cars,but they lost the plot,I hope they do good this timr arround
Wish you well
Thanks, ZT. I hope they do better this time, too. People kept focusing on the negatives, especially in England, when it came to the MG Rover range. They weren’t ever fantastic, especially in build quality, but they were not as bad as many made out.
Great site. Keep up the good work!Post a Comment
# posted by Anonymous: 1/17/2007 10:17:00 AM
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