SAIC Motor Corporation, has embarked on an aggressive global sales and manufacturing plan, promising a full range of passenger and commercial vehicles to tackle the world’s automotive giants head on. However, there is no mention of a sports car or even a convertible, forgetting that open air motoring was what made MG great.
International business executive director Yang Xiaodong for MG/SAIC said, “We want a global footprint, with international operations, global competitiveness and global brand image. We also have a very aggressive plan for the next five years. So, in future, we will be very aggressive on the footprint in terms of design center investment, manufacturing and also the local marketing.”
SAIC plans to relaunch with two models – the mid-sized MG6 and light MG3 hatch – in March 2016, followed in the third quarter by the new MG GS mid-sized SUV that the company expects will be its biggest seller globally.
So far, progress has been modest, with, for example, just 2500 MG vehicles sold last year in the UK where SAIC retains the MG design and engineering operations along with a small CKD (completely knocked down) assembly plant for MG6.
At least two more SUVs are planned for the MG line-up – one either side of the new GS that was SAIC’s star of the motor show in Dubai where the Chinese company has just opened its Middle East base.
Yang said SAIC’s new factory in Thailand would be the manufacturing base for right-hand drive vehicles for markets such as Australia.
But he said initial shipments of MGs would come from China until the Thai plant was ready to take over RHD production some time in the next five years.
Sports/convertibles are not on the future list, with Yang saying that previous such MGs, including the MG F that the company built for a while in England after it took control of MG Rover in 2005, had mainly appealed to “senior people”. “We want to redesign MG to be more fashionable, more dynamic, with more passion,” he said.
“This includes new-energy vehicle, automatic (driving) vehicle, internet vehicle and traditional vehicles,” he said. However, this did not include luxury vehicles.
Quite frankly I do not envy Mr. Yang. MG was a known brand that British Leyland sank, but the sports cars were identifiable. These “new” MG’s are just the same as everything else these days. They will only sell on price, and not anything else.