Currently reading: MG ceases UK production
British brand MG, which is owned by Chinese automotive giant SAIC, will not produce its range of cars at its Longbridge plant
Jimi Beckwith
News
3 mins read
23 September 2016

MG has ceased production of cars at its Longbridge plant, five years after the brand started producing cars there once more.

Production now takes place in China, ending MG's UK-based finishing production. The move has been under consideration for as long as two years, according to MG's head of sales and marketing, Matthew Cheyne. 

Read our thoughts on the shutdown of Longbridge here

Cheyne explained that there were many reasons for the relocation, but the main reason for the decision was MG looking to streamline its production process because its UK plant's production output could not compete with its larger, more modern facilities in China.

"Small volumes aren’t economically viable at a site of Longbridge's size. Elsewhere in the world we have state-of-the-art facilities, so it's more cost-effective to import and build them elsewhere. There was no efficient way to carry on doing it in the UK.," Cheyne explained.

Despite the loss of 25 jobs at the Longbridge plant, the MG facility will still continue to employ more than 300 people, with new recruits having been taken on in other areas of business. MG's development of its model range will continue to be UK-based though, as Cheyne revealed the company's investment in a new £1.2million test-bed for new models. Sales, marketing and aftersales are also here to stay.

The move away from UK production is also partially due to the UK's vote to leave the European Union, according to Cheyne. He explained that since the value of the pound dropped following the Brexit vote, the cost to MG of producing its product range rose, rendering the production operations in the UK no longer cost-effective.

Alongside the move, MG is also starting a new initiative to build a more global product line-up, rather than starting with a car destined for international markets, then re-engineering and designing it to fit into the UK market. Cheyne also denied that the move would have any impact on the price of MG cars, given the economic benefits of moving production overseas.

According to the BBC, the move has drawn criticism from local Labour MP for Birmingham, who dubbed the pull-out “hugely disappointing and premature”.

MG's market share, according to the most recent set of official industry statistics, was 0.12% in August this year. 

The news of the wind-down of production comes just one day after the SMMT announced a 14-year high for UK car production figures for August, although MG's limited domestic sales mean that this is unlikely to be considerably impacted.

Cheyne explained that the move would not affect MG's upcoming product plans, including the production of a new small SUV to sit below the brand's current GS SUV. He remained optimistic about MG's future in the country, stating: "Going forward, we have the availability for production to build in China and other markets. We're part of a massive global company, which we haven’t been taking advantage of, which we now can."

Production at the Longbridge plant re-started in 2011, following a 16-year hiatus after Rover and MG went under in 2005.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find an Autocar review

Join the debate

Comments
43
Add a comment…
sirwiggum 26 September 2016

I see plenty of them about,

I see plenty of them about, helped by the fact that a couple of ex-Rover family run dealers are selling them. See the occasional MG6, likely ex-demo bargains, and plenty of MG3s - though truth be told the drivers are usually mature - the kind of demographic that the Hyundai i10 seems to target.

Though in this corner of the UK people aren't too hung up on where the car is built, Longbridge is in far far away land. And Asian cars are generally embraced, Hyundai and Kia etc. have always been popular.

The MG brand itself? Well it was used for some hot Rovers, a mid engined roadster about 20 years ago, before that it was on some warmed over 'M' series Austins.

stumpys182 25 September 2016

Got a mate..

who had one of the very first MG6's with the turbocharged K-series, and now on his second one. He has had no warranty issues, no broken trims, no electrical or mechanical issues and has now bought an MG3 for his daughter, again, with no reliability issues (so far).I know we all have an opinion on the current MG's and a perception of how good (or bad)they are, but to a point, you get what you pay for and if you are realistic with expectations, then you may not be disappointed. I have owned many mainstream marques and have worked for many too, and I have to say, the reliability of some of the JLR and VAG products would warrant the assumption they too were from a budget Chinese brand, but the prices certainly don't!
Daniel Joseph 25 September 2016

@stumpys182

You make a good point about the cars. They were not terrible by any means, but I think they were fatally undermined by carrying the MG brand, with the burden of history and expectation as to what sort of car a "real" MG should be. MG enthusiasts are happy to remember and celebrate the sports coupés, convertibles and distinctive sporting saloons, whilst conveniently forgetting the dreadful badge engineered cars of the BMC/BL era. Had SAIC launched the 3, 6 and GS under their own (or a new) brand (but not the faux-Rover "Roewe") with aggressive pricing and a decent dealer network, they might have stood a better chance, particularly as the Koreans and Skoda have attempted to move upmarket, inexplicably so in the case of Skoda, which is now threatening to cannibalise VW sales.
sap59red 24 September 2016

MG Closure

25 people were made redundant - a lot more were employed via agencies so don't count in the redundancy figures. As an MG6 owner I can confirm that the cars are great value for money. A prejudice against parts made in China seemed to exist, although the electrics are all Bosch and the petrol engine is a substantially reworked version of the K series (with overheating problems resolved).

Have the people slagging it off actually owned one?

Find an Autocar car review