Shanghaiist felt a little sad a few years back when we learnt that one of our first automotive crushes was soon to be no more. However, we felt a lot happier last week when we learnt that the MG had arrived back on the scene, and all thanks to China’s oldest automotive manufacturer, Nanjing Automobile.
The New York Times has a great article on how the resurrection of the MG-Rover brand is representative of the foreign acquisition and join-venture strategies of China’s automobile companies, all of which are designed to help build international brands from China. Shanghaiist has previously mentioned Anhui province’s Chery Automobile and Chrysler’s joint-venture story, and there’s also a few blogs monitoring such developments in the Chinese automobile industry.
In the above article, the NYT interviewed Jonathan Anderson, chief economist for Asia at UBS in Hong Kong about the hyperbole surrounding the state of China’s foreign investments in automobile industries. He had this to say…
“This is not Japan in the ’80s; this is Japan in the ’60s,”
In 2005, Nanjing Auto decided to acquire MG-Rover with the intent on keeping the brand going. Nanjing Auto paid just over $100 million for the MG assets, MG manufacturing equipment was shipped to China to reduce the cost of the labour-intensive production of MG cars, and the new parent-company also retained key managers in the MG structure. The loss of one of Britain’s most loved brands wasn’t received well back in the UK due to the stink of poor administration. Wikipedia states that the Longbridge Manufacturing Plant progressively downsized its working force from 16,000 to 6,000 since its opening in 1982 until MG-Rover’s collapse into administration in April 2005. At the time, nearly 6,000 jobs were lost when the Longbridge plant closed. But it also appears that the former home of MG-Rover hasn’t missed out on this Chinese-led revival. Fansite, MG-Rover.org reported at the end of January this year that the first batch of 42 MG TF’s had emerged from the lines at the Longbridge plant. Let’s hope that this can help the 23% of former MG-Rover employees still in financial difficulty due to the company’s previous failure.
There has also been quite a bit of speculation whether Nanjing Automobile has over-stretched its finances in acquiring and producing MG-Rover. This doesn’t appeared to have impinged on the construction of new models for MG in Nanjing. For this iconic brand’s sake, we hope Nanjing Automobile has things under control.
The Classic British Sports Car From China (NYT)
Longbridge plant is back in business with MG car deal (The Scotsman)
Also on Shanghaiist
The MG, resurrected
‘Oh, he’s drunk. How would he know where we’re going?’
Picture taken from The Maestro Blog.