The Birmingham Mail is reporting that Longbridge is back up and running with a vengeance with plans to more than double the MG UK workforce at the car factory within 12 months. The Chinese owners of the famous Birmingham car plant aim to beat the financial downturn with proposals to hire more production, paintshop, sales and marketing staff and others during 2009.
And discussions are under way over the transfer of around 250 designers and engineers currently based at the Shanghai Motor Technical Centre in Leamington – a wholly-owned subsidiary of SAIC/Nanjing – to Longbridge. The recruitment plans would more than double the current workforce of around 200 based at Longbridge, at a time when motor industry jobs are under severe threat from the worst UK sales slump for over 40 years.
Meanwhile, the standard version of the two-seater MGTF will be on the road by the end of the year following a sell-out of the limited edition version, the TF LE500. NAC MG UK corporate communications manager Eleanor de le Haye said the car firm was set to recruit across all areas.
“At the time of the launch, it was 180 to 190 people but the workforce is creeping up all the time,” she said. “There are 27 people being recruited over the course of 2009 for sales and marketing, for example. There are plans to recruit more business staff, paintshop staff, production staff. The TF LE500 has been a huge success and we do not think that it would be any different for the standard car. We have a standard specification model, MGTF, and there will be standard cars on the road by the end of the year.”
Ms De La Haye confirmed that plans to transfer the SMTC UK Ltd operation – which provides engineering and design skills for MG and the Shanghai-built Roewe model – were under consideration.
The new Chinese-built MG is being sold through a network of 50-plus UK dealerships nationwide from £16,399 on the road and SAIC/Nanjing aim for an output of around 3,700 vehicles next year.