SOURCE: Automotive NewsNanjing Auto to launch U.K. output of MGs this month
May 17, 2007 - 10:00 am
SHANGHAI (Reuters) -- Nanjing Automobile's first British-made MG TF sports cars will roll off the Longbridge assembly line late this month, ending the plant's two-year production halt as the Chinese automaker moves to revive the venerable brand.
Nanjing Auto, which took control of collapsed MG Rover two years ago, unveiled its first China-made MG sports cars and sedans in March.
The Longbridge plant will produce its first MG TFs on May 29, Nanjing said, as the company gears up to start selling MG cars in China and elsewhere in the second half.
So far, 98 British dealerships have expressed interest in marketing the vintage brand in Britain, along with others in Germany, Australia and several British Commonwealth countries, it added.
Non-China sales may account for more than half of global MG car sales in the first few years, Zhang Xin, general manager of the Nanjing Auto unit making the cars, told Reuters in April.
But China could become the single biggest market for the MG marque as more Chinese drivers are exposed to the brand, he said.
Nanjing Auto surprised the industry in 2005 when it outbid China's biggest car maker, SAIC Motor Corp., to acquire the major assets of failed MG Rover for $105 million (53 million pounds).
The acquisition underlined Chinese automakers' eagerness to produce higher-end models and to expand into developed markets.
China became a net automobile exporter for the first time in 2005 and its 2006 exports nearly doubled to 300,000 vehicles. But Chinese companies have so far had little success in making volume sales to major, developed markets.