In China the Chinese MGTF is to make its worldwide debut in just over a week – 6,000 miles away from Longbridge. Longbridge owners Nanjing today opened their doors to the British press to reveal that the two-seater MGTF would finally roll off the Nanjing production lines from May 20 onwards.
The Chinese launch of the sports car paves the way for the long-delayed introduction of the two-seater in the UK in early August.
Saic-Nanjing’s confirmation of the production launch came in response to the No More Chinese Whispers campaign by the Birmingham Mail, calling on the Chinese to come clean over their intentions for Longbridge.
And today Saic-Nanjing’s confidence in the MG brand was under-lined as plans were revealed for 1,000 new jobs at the Chinese plants.
The success of the Chinese factory is critical to the relaunch of Longbridge, where production lines have remained at a standstill for more than three years since MG Rover closed in April 2005 with the loss of 6,500 jobs.
The Nanjing plant is already supplying engines and other body parts to the UK for eventual assembly at Longbridge. Yang Junhu, vice general manger of Nanjing MG, told the Mail today: “The MGTF will be produced here from May 20 onwards.
“It is a very exciting time for us – we started work on this in 2005 and we think the car will be popular.”
The 800,000 square feet complex on the outskirts of Nanjing was launched in March last year and up to now has produced only one model, the MG 7.
Now the launch of the MGTF – with the promise of more models to follow – is playing a key role in kick-starting the Longbridge project after more than three years.
Nanjing executives said several hundred advance orders were already in the pipeline for the MGTF.
Emma Tian, manager in Nanjing’s international operations department, said: “At this stage we have only got one shift but in the future we will have three.
“That will give us a 50 to 60 per cent increase in jobs, creating around 1,000 new positions at the plant.
“People love MG. It is not only a money issue, it is a love and passion for the brand.”
The Nanjing plant, around 15 miles from the city centre on a sprawling industrial complex, currently employs around 2,000 people.
The factory will eventually produce a range of four MGs, with replacement models due over the next two years.
Nanjing said the MGTF will sell for between £19,000 and £23,000 in the Far East, with 81 dealers already appointed across the giant state.
UK prices have not yet been announced.