28 July 2011
MG for Le Mans 24 hrs race
MG will be returning to the
race track next year to take part in the Le Mans 24 Hours
MG UK has confirmed that it will be sponsoring Team RLR Motorsport, which is currently taking part in the Le Mans Series. This Lancashire-based Team RLR is competing with an MG Lola EX265, which was an ex-MG works racing car and the only MG now racing at this level. The deal will see MG Motor UK engineers having some input into future development of the car but, more importantly, could mean some of the ideas from the racing circuit could be incorporated into future MG road cars. Guy Jones, MG Motor UK sales and marketing director, said the MG brand was synonymous with motor sport and the deal would be good for both businesses.
“Ever since we started this project we wanted to get back into motor sport in a cost effective manner so to sponsor a privateer team which is racing an MG is perfect,” he said. “We are not in a position to have our own racing team at the moment, so to be involved with RLR gives us a high-profile MG racing presents is the best way forward.
“Now we have two vehicles – the MG6 and the MG6 Magnette – we need to raise the profile of the brand and the best way is to get into motor sport.” Mr Jones said he believed there were areas of the racing car that MG engineers could help develop, adding that it was a two-way street and ideas from the world of racing could well be adopted on future MG models made at Longbridge. Nick Reynolds, Team RLR principal, said: “We have one of the best prepared teams in the Le Mans Series, and the support from MG will ensure that we can be even more competitive both on and off the track throughout the 2011 Le Mans Series season and beyond.” The MG Lola was designed, built and funded by MG as a works racing car, competing between 2003 and 2008. In 2005 and 2006 it won its class in the Le Mans 24 Hours race. It is powered by a 4.0-litre V8 engine developing around 500bhp and has a top speed of 180 miles per hour.
14 April 2011
First MG6 heads for the dealers
Around thirty dealers came to MG Birmingham on the 14th April to pick up their first MG6s. After a short presentation by Guy Jones, sales and marketing director said, "that the long-awaited MG6 sporting hatchback has finally taken to the road, and it’s a car which will put a smile on the face of MG enthusiasts".
This first new MG in 16 years lives up to the marque’s true sporting heritage, and comes in at a price to beat the competition. Before taking to the road, Guy Jones announced the unexpectedly low price for the range as the company has decided to “take the hit” on VAT by keeping it at the pre-increase rate of 17.5 per cent for the first three months of sales. So Prices will start at £15,495 for the entry-level S model, £16,995 for the SE and £18,995 for the top-of-the-range TSE.
Those prices mean the car is cheaper than its main competitor, the Ford Focus, yet it is larger in size, falling between the Focus and Mondeo. “MG is back and back to stay,” said Mr Jones. "This is a true MG".
MG6 leaving the Main Entrance
In procession down Lowhill Lane
Now passing the Flight Shed, and on to Victoria Square Birmingham
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13 April 2011
First MG6 rolled off the line
At last a new MG car,
rolled off the production line heralding what will bring a new era
of manufacturing to Longbridge. This red MG6 - was driven by the
plant's only female
production line worker, Lisa Ponter, who lost her
job along with 6,500 others just six years ago. Some of the
factory's 400 workers gathered to
watch the car as it emerged from production amid clouds of dry ice
and bursts of coloured foil confetti. MG, see this as just the
start, with the saloon version to be available July/August, then
next year a diesel engine will become an option.
23 February 2011
1.8 Turbo TCI (160ps)
Plans for MG6 production at Longbridge
I attended a talk given by Guy Jones, Sales and Marketing Director for MG Motor UK Limited, which had been give to journalists just two days before.
You will see from the above plan of the MG Birmingham site, yes Longbridge has been put to rest, and 'Q' gate is now called the Main Entrance.
Those familiar with the Longridge site, will see that the Head Quarters are housed in what was called the Kremlin. Logistics building was where seats would come in from outside suppliers. The General Assembly building started out as CAB 1, but was renamed in 2000 as Assemble A. The paint shop was called No 3, this had been converted over to water based paints. Shown as Future Expansion Area, is in fact where CAB 2 used to stand, this was demolished in 1998 to make way for a new assembly building that was going to build the BMW Mini.
MG has modified the old 75 track to build the MG6 which arrive from China as kits. Something like 10% of the car is sourced in Europe. The Paint Shop is mothballed at the moment, this is because bodies are received painted and fully trimmed. It is hoped that as sales increase over the coming years it will be possible to bring the paint shop back on stream.
There are about 400 employed, of which 100 are involved with the sales and manufacturing. The main employment is those who work for SAIC Motor European Technical Centre. This facility provides from concept to the final pre-production vehicle for both MG and Rowe brands in China and UK. The Rowe brand will only be used in China, with the MG for UK and Europe. There are no plans to launch the MG brand into the North America market in the foreseeable future.
One of the last parts of the jigsaw is the new Engine Test Facility costing £5.0m which will provide six test cells, of which four are now been commissioned. Because of this the test facilities that were in the Flight Shed are now redundant, in fact the Flight Shed will be returned back to St Modwen Properties PLC in May.
So what is the plan for the MG6 launch. The media will be able to road test the cars from mid-March, and in mid-April the MG Dealers will have their first car to show to potential customers. At the moment there are 39 MG dealers, but marketing are planing to expand this by another 45. Then in May will be the Official Public Launch, when they go on general sale. This is followed in June when the MG6 Saloon goes into production, then general sales should start in July/August.
So what can we expect in the future. In
mid 2012 the MG6 fastback and saloon will be available with a
diesel engine. The next car to come will be the UK version of the
MG3 that should be launched at the end of 2012, although at this
stage no decision has been taken whether this model will be built
at MG Birmingham.
Looking further ahead every manufacture is planning to bring out an All Electric or Hybrid car soon, these vehicles are called Low Energy Vehicles (LEV). The Nissan Leaf will be the first all electric vehicle to go on sale in the UK later this year. In late 2009 SAIC signed an agreement with an American company called A123 Systems, and formed a new company called Shanghai Advanced Traction Battery Systems Company Limited (ATBS). 1000 SAIC Motor-built LEVs were in operation at EXPO 2010 which gave them valuable data. The company has plans to launch a series of plug-in hybrid and full electric models from 2012 onwards.
15 February 2010
New Corporate Colours for MG
The new colours were shown to the Press on the 15 February 2011
Along with details of the MG 6 specification etc
Warranty is for three years or 60,000 miles, although they now say this can be extended to five years and probable 100,000 miles at an additional cost
Very high mileage drivers can enjoy unlimited mileage during the first twelve months of ownership.
Roadside assistance lasts foe three years, regardless of vehicle mileage.
Servicing is every 12 months or 15,000 miles.
Also on the day journalists were shown the MG6 saloon version,
which will be launched in about three months time. The official
launch of the MG6 will be in March, when the press will be able to
take a test drive, also prices will be confirmed. It is thought the
prices will range from £16,000 to £20,000.
In the first year of production it's planned to build 2,000 units, then slowly rising to around 5,000 units per year. The company stated that there were now 400 employees working at Longbridge, but in fact less than 10% are employed on the production side.
MG6 Heads for Home
18 January 2011
19th October 2010
Latest pictures from MG Birmingham
'Q' Gate is no more, Main Entrance takes its place.
MG 6 Test Car escapes.
Large sign is removed from 'N' Gate
'N' Gates are now open, the first time in Five years
This will allow the MG 6 components from China to enter the factory.
SAIC MG Birmingham
This section is devoted to how this Chinese company came to own the MG brand, and now gearing up to manufacture various models at the Birmingham plant.
Because Longbridge is now moving into a new phase of its history,
all further developments will be on this page.
This means that MG Longbridge in the Menu will not be updated
The same year that Austin
was celebrating its Golden Anniversary, this company was been
established in December 1955. At that time called Shanghai City
Diesel Parts Manufacturing Company. Then three years later it
merged with the Shanghai City Power Equipment Manufacturing
Company, to be come The Shanghai City Power Machinery Manufacturing
In September of 1958 a subsidiary called Shanghai Automobile Assembling Factory succeeded in the trial production of its first car called the Phoenix, (surprise surprise).The following year, changed its name again to Shanghai City Agricultural Machinery Manufacturing Company. By 1964 the Phoenix brand became Shanghai, and by 1975 its annual production had only reached 5,000 units.
This company changed it name again in 1969 to Shanghai City Tractor & Automotive Industry Company. It was realised at this stage that China did not have the auto manufacturing skills to produce a car that was now demanded by the consumer. So in June 1982 a delegation from Shanghai Car Project visited West Germany and signed a SANTANA car trial product agreement with Volkswagen. In April 1983 the first Shanghai SANTANA car was successfully assembled from a CKD kit.
VW Santana 2008 version
In March 1985 the following company was established, Volkswagen Automobile Co., Ltd . Yet another change of name in March 1990 to the current Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC). The following year production of their own Shanghai car ceased.
By the autumn of 1993, production was now reaching 100,000 units per year with China supplying 80% of the components. Another change of name in September to Shanghai Automotive Industry (Group) Corporation. With the success of the joint venture with Volkswagen, SAIC signed a basic agreement with General Motors Company of America to establish an automobile assemble and development centre in Shanghai. To fund this expansion SAIC was listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange with the issue of 300 million ‘A’ shares at 7.02 Yuan. In 2001 more shares totalling 420 million at 8 Yuan were issued.
In its quest to be active outside of China, SAIC in October 2002 SAIC paid $59.7m (£31m) for a 10% stake in Daewoo Auto, the Korean manufacturer now controlled by GM, to add to it’s controlling stake in Ssangyong Motors, another Korean firm that in 2009 it paid $500m for a 48.9% stake. A Shanghai newspaper this week quoted Hu Mao Yuan, SAIC’s chairman, as saying that part of the company’s plan was to use Rover engines and Ssangyong’s expertise in sports utility vehicles to launch a 4x4 for Chinese and export markets.
The company expanded at a rapid rate and soon entered the World Top Fortune list of the 500 largest companies at No 461 with a annual sales of $11.72 billion in 2003.
The Shanghai company occupies a key position in the world’s fastest-growing car market. The Chinese bought 5m vehicles in 2004, and this year China (2010) will pass Germany to become the world’s third-largest car market, and is likely to overtake Japan next year. SAIC is clear about its strategic goals. Its spokesman, Zhu Xiang Jun, said that 90% of the passenger vehicles on the road in China were foreign makes. “We have to have our own brands. And we want to acquire and develop a bridgehead for international expansion.” A genuinely home-grown product is not on the cards. “To start our own brand from scratch would be too slow and too expensive,” he said. “It’s a perfect match. The western companies have the technology, and the Chinese have the money and the low-cost manufacturing base.”
Dates of events from April 2005
8th April 2005
SAIC made the following statement, SAIC wanted MGR to demonstrate that it would be solvent over the next two years, and because it could not, the deal had been called off.
By the mid-morning, MG Rover confirmed it had called in the administrators - PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) - and made the statement that it would be trying to secure the best possible future for the company and its 6000 workers.
John Towers returned from China, and was adamant that the company wasn't doomed, and that some kind of agreement could be reached.
Talks continued for many months with the general feeling that SAIC would buy the company.
23 July 2005 :- PricewaterhouseCoopers announced that Najing had now bought MG Rover, but there was various intellectual property issues with SAIC.
2005 SAIC joins forces with Ricardo PLC and forms a new company called Ricardo 2010 Consultants Ltd to act as the overseas engineering centre of SAIC Motor. This new company carried on the work that had been done with the engineers who were previously employed by MG Rover. This was to continue the work of looking at designing new models with a UK base at Leamington and at Shanghai. In this agreement SAIC had the option of buying out Ricardo PLC for £1.00.
October 2006 :- SAIC's first own-brand car Roewe 750 makes its debut in Shanghai. The company thought they had bought the rights to the Rover name, but this was still owned by BMW. So at the last minute the name was changed to Roewe.
May 2007:- SAIC takes up the option of paying just £1.00 to take control of Ricardo 2010. This subsidiary of SAIC to be called SAIC Motor UK Technical Centre Limited (SMTC UK)
The launch of the MG TF LE 500 at Longbridge in front of the world press, actually turned out to be a non event.
December 2007:- SAIC sign the final agreement on a planned merger with Yuejin Motor Group, controlling shareholder of Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corp.
August 2008 :- Relaunch of the MG TF LE500, this time a very low key event.
December 2008 :- SMTC UK move from Leamington to MG Birmingham.
June 2010 :- Official opening of SMTC MG Design Centre
The MG Design Centre is responsible for
the initial styling concept and design of both the Rowe and MG
brands, along with Engines, Transmission, Suspension and
Electrical. The external facilities used in the UK are MIRA and
Millbrook test tracks etc. Also to do specific testing of vehicle,
it uses various places around the world. The staff consists of
mainly ex Rover Group - Powertrain engineers, but also from other
manufactures like Honda, Jaguar, Land Rover, Ford and BMW.
With the UK based engineers the average years worked in the Motor Industry is about 25, this contrasts with only 2.5 years for the Chinese engineers, this is one reason why SAIC needs the wealth of experience that European engineers can give.
to R: Tony Williams-Kenny, MG Design Director, SMTC UK, Wu Ming,
Vice-President, SMTC UK, David Lindley, President SMTC UK/Global
V-P, Advanced Engineering, Richard Hutchins, Deputy CEO, Advantage
West Midlands, Brett Riley, Vice-President, MG Motor UK, Tom
Marchbanks, International Investment Manager, Advantage West
Note the Roewe and MG Logo
Part of the main office
Automatic versions may not be available in the UK
The Electronics Testing Facility (LabCar)
At the heart of a car today is the
electronic systems, so it is important that the various systems are
tested prior to the building of any prototype. An area is set aside
in the Design Centre called LabCar where all the various components
are positioned relative to how they would be on the car. This
allows the electrical engineers to carry out various tests on the
engine management and all the vehicle hardware. This speeds up the
development of a new model as the electronic side has been proved
by the time the prototype cars are built.
SAIC has two other Technical Centres, the
main one in Anting Shanghai employing 1,200 engineers, the other at
Nanjing with 200.
Below shows what SMTC UK are responsible
MG Birmingham has engineered the following to date.
Large Car Platform
Roewe 550 – launched in China
MG6 Fastback – launched in China with a UK launch during Q4/2010
MG6 Saloon – UK launch during H1/2010
Medium Car Platform
Roewe 350 – launched in China
Small Car Platform
New small Roewe
MG Zero Concept - New small MG
Medium Petrol Engine Family
Development of existing engine
New Diesel Engine Family
New Small Petrol Engine Family 1.5 litre +
Small Petrol Engine
New Large Petrol Engine
New manual transmission
New automatic transmission
New electric hybrid transmission
Designs for all the range of cars
ZP11 Front and Rear Suspension
The Roewe brand is purely for the Chinese
market, MG is the brand that will be used in the rest of the world.
The first major market that will see the new MG6 is UK - Europe.
With the UK receiving the first fruits of production, and then as
the Dealerships in Europe are established, more production from the
factory will be exported.
So with the Roewe 750 which was
successfully launched in 2006
and then in April 2009 we had the Roewe 550.
At the 2010 Beijing Motor Show the MG Zero concept.
Zero -- Concept
So the Rowe 550 becomes the MG6
Does the Zero become the MG4
And perhaps a mini size model called MG2
Well, thats the saloon range, but what about the TF replacement.
Below is how it may look based on the
current TF, but now with front engine and rear wheel drive. The
body follows the line of the old model but now has a more
aerodynamic shape. But we are likely to have wait a couple of years
before this is announced.
All manufactures have to bring out more efficient engines, which will include hybrid powered versions and also electric only. SIAC is already working on such products, and has this month announced a tie up with GM to jointly develop fuel-efficient engines and transmissions. Under the agreement both sides will together develop a new small-displacement petrol engine family and an advanced transmission, which will be used by GM and SAIC in China and future vehicles worldwide. With engineering and development of the new engine carried out in both Detroit and Shanghai.
The new small engine will feature a compact, lightweight design combining direct-fuel injection and turbo charging. It will be offered in both 1.0litre and 1.5litre. The new front-wheel-drive automatic transmission will have the latest innovations for improving fuel economy and performance. By having a dry, dual-clutch system which will provide 10 percent better fuel economy over today's conventional six-speed automatic transmissions. It is envisaged that by combining these technologies a 20 percent reduction in emissions will be achieved.
“The co-development of these new engines and transmissions builds on a strong history of innovation and collaboration between GM and SAIC, we have built up a strong relationship with SAIC over the last thirteen years” said Tom Stephens, GM vice-chairman of Global Product Operations.
July 2010 China's
biggest automaker SAIC Motor will launch 14 own-brand models under
the banner of Roewe and MG for the period 2011 to 2014. There will
be a new-generation Roewe 750 and a facelift Roewe 550, while a new
A-Class hatchback (AP12) and a new small SUV (AS21) will be planned
for MG in 2011. During 2012 to 2013, SAIC will release a facelift
Roewe 350, a MG A-Class sedan (AP13) and a Roewe A0-Class sedan
A new Roewe 750 now under development is expected to be launched in mid-2011 and will be based on the Buick Lacrosse platform. In 2012 there will be minor facelifts to the Roewe 350 and the MG6, while the MG7 will be swapped for a new model. Besides, an A-Class MPV (AM11) a larger Roewe MPV (B11) will be launched in 2012 and in 2013, respectively.
Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corporation
(SAIC) ranked the first on the Top Ten automaker list by the China
Association of Automobile Manufactures (CAAM) with a sales volume
of 276,300 in July.
You will see that from the above sales figures that SAIC will be a world player in the automotive industry, with the MG brand taking it into Europe. Although the MG6 will be nearly 100% initially Chinese sourced, as production numbers build up UK/European companies will start supplying components.
SAIC funding for the UK, which for 2010 was 25% up on 2009 will steadily rise as more engineering staff are taken on. Production staff will also grow as production volumes builds up as additional models come on stream.
So what shall we see over the coming years at MG Birmingham.
(SMTC) UK has been made responsible for Advance Engineering (AM) globally, with AM teams in the UK and China. With 90% of the work carried out in the UK, working on a five year plan for future vehicles. AE leadership will manage resources in the UK, Shanghai and Nanjing.
Below is a plant layout of MG Birmingham at the end of 2010. Those of you familiar with the site will notice some changes. Security will be moving from the building by ’N’ Gate to what was the Dispatch Building by ‘Q’ Gate. It also appears ‘Q’ Gate will be no more, as this entrance will be called the Main Gate, (So another piece of history is to vanish). ’N’ Gate also loses its name, but manned for the deliveries from China. A new engine test facility (£1.7m) will come on stream, so the Flight Shed will be handed back to St Modwen in April 2011. The building behind the Design Centre that was used for receiving seats, is to be converted to supply the dealer network with spares. What was called the Kremlin, is now the MG Motor UK Headquarters
All this refurbishing of the site will have cost SAIC just under £5.0m.