Full-scale car production resumed at Britain’s Longbridge auto plant under its Chinese owners on Friday, reviving the factory which was mothballed when MG Rover went bankrupt in 2005.
Full-volume production of the two-seater MG TF LE500 sports car was underway at the facility in Birmingham, Britain’s second city, giving a much-needed boost to the country’s motor industry. After 100 years of vehicle production in Birmingham, the traditional heart of Britain’s motor industry, about 6,000 jobs were lost when historic car manufacturer MG Rover collapsed.
Nanjing Automotive Company (NAC) bought MG Rover’s assets for 53 million pounds in July 2005. They were taken over last year by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC).
“We have all worked extremely hard to meet our commitment to commence production of the MG TF in August,” said MG UK corporate communications manager Eleanor De La Haye.
“We are delighted to have reached this important point and are looking forward to seeing the cars in showrooms shortly. We have taken the very best options from the car that you saw before and put them into one package. If you look at the pre-orders that we have had through our dealers, about 70 percent are already sold and that tells its own story.”
The Longbridge plant started up in 1905 on the site of a former print works. In its heyday, the factory produced 10,000 cars per week.
Gary Hagan, director of marketing for NAC MG UK, said: “The launch of this car also marks the re-introduction of the MG brand to the UK. Existing MG owners, our huge band of enthusiasts and fans of the authentic sports car driving experience have looked forward to this day for a long time.”
The collapse of MG Rover in 2005 was not the only setback for the British motor industry, as French automaker Peugeot withdrew from Ryton in nearby Coventry and Jaguar’s plant at Browns Lane in Coventry was also closed.