Main parts supplier pulls out of Chinese MG TF deal
15 April 2008

The project to revive production of the MG TF roadster at MG Rover’s defunct Longbridge site is on the brink of collapse, according to reports from the West Midlands.Supplier Stadco announced at the weekend that it was pulling out of a deal to make TF body shells for the Chinese carmaker Nanjing, some 18 months after signing a supply deal.Nanjing owns the rights to the MG TF design and had also signed a 33-year lease for much of the production line space at Longbridge in 2005 with the intention of putting the TF back into production in spring 2007. It rolled out a handful of the re-designed TF2 models at a press launch in May 2007.Stadco’s decision to stop manufacturing pre-production bodies has not only put up to 30 jobs at risk, but is seen an indication that Longbridge site might never see any kind of car making again. So far, Nanjing has remained tight-lipped about its plans now Stadco has gone.Some sources think that Stadco – which was a partner in the engineering of the original 1995 MG F – may have ownership of some aspects of the TF body and tooling, further complicating the situation.Reports say another 150 component suppliers were also signed up to make components for the new model. However, many fear that the withdrawal of Stadco from the project will mark the end of the line. Reports from the West Midlands suggested that costs of re-engineering the TF to meet current and future legislation also put the skids under the project.Since Nanjing’s original plans to revive European MG production at Longbridge, the carmaker has been pushed by the Chinese authorities into a merger with the much larger Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation.Industry observers now fear that cash-strapped Nanjing’s plans have been kicked into the long grass as a result of its merger with SAIC.Although Nanjing successfully bought the production line equipment from the receivers after MG Rover’s collapse in 2005, MGR’s one-time partner SAIC already owned the design rights to the British cars.Since 2005, SAIC has invested in two new cars – the Roewe 750 and the 550 – which are both based on an updated version of the Rover 75 platform. Much of the engineering took place at SAIC’s UK engineering facility in the West Midlands.The most likely future scenario is that the two Roewe models will be built in China and launched into Europe wearing MG badges.Longbridge could still become the new MG importation headquarters for Europe, but production of the MG TF2 on the site – or any other models – now seems very unlikely.

Hilton Holloway

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2

15 April 2008

Sad to hear this news, but in all honesty can anyone really have believed that Longbridge would come alive again as "promised" by the Chinese, I think it was always just a pipedream. I suppose that we just have to accept that we Brits are not very good at the "management" of bulding cars despite having some of the greatest talent in the world as far as design and innovation goes. I believe that this is partly down to having a short term view in terms of investment, everybody wants a fast buck, and partly the "knocking" attitude of many in this country.


Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

GD

15 April 2008

This cannot be so surprising. It has all taken too long. Rover has been dead for about four years now and still no production by the Chinese. The TF is very long in the tooth, as is the 75 engineering that the Chinese have bought. I very much doubt if we will see any UK production of the old MG Rover models.

GB

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