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MG closes its British production plant
MG to concentrate production in China
After almost a century of on-off production, the last MG-branded car has been built in the UK.
Owners of MG Motor confirmed last week that the Longbridge plant in the West Midlands has ceased assembling cars which will now be fully built in China.
According to reports, just 25 jobs will be lost at the site near Birmingham with the sales, marketing and after-sales departments located at the 300-employee strong UK base unaffected.
Following the collapse of MG Rover in 2005, Chinese automaker Nanjing Automobile bought the MG marque and the Longbridge facility for £53 million the following year.
Some 12 months on, Shanghai-based SAIC Motor acquired the Chinese car firm along with the British-badged carmaker that was first established in 1920.
Since 2007, three MG Motor models have been launched and part-built in the UK.
The first, the MG6 saloon, has been assembled at the former MG-Rover factory south of Birmingham since 2011, while the facility has also been putting the final finishing touched to part-made MG3 superminis and GS SUVs since.
But SAIC announced last week that it has axed the Longbridge production process - which it admitted were all small additions - in favour of shipping completed cars from China, rather than complete their construction at the UK hub.
MG Motor UK's head of sales and marketing, Matthew Cheyne, told the Birmingham Mail that the move to an all-China production hub will help the motor brand grow.
He said: 'With efficiency and flexibility both key to long-term market success, off-shoring vehicle production is a necessary business decision.
'Relocating to state-of-the-art overseas production facilities will allow faster access to product and help to meet ever-increasing customer demand, all while maintaining the highest levels of production quality.
'In addition, improving production scale efficiencies will support ongoing sales growth in the UK market – a key priority.'
The carmaker has sold 2,300 vehicles in the UK so far this year – up by 350 units compared to the same time in 2015.
Much of the growth is down to the latest model in the range, the GS compact SUV, which has been heavily advertised in recent months.
But last week's news means one of the nation's best recognised auto brands will no longer be built in Britain in any form.
Labour MP Richard Burden told the Birmingham newspaper: 'MG’s decision to close its assembly line at Longbridge is hugely disappointing and I believe it is premature.
'I understand the business concerns that MG have surrounding costs of assembly at Longbridge, which have undoubtedly been aggravated by problems with the strength of the pound.
'However, more discussions should have taken place to explore alternatives and options before any decisions were finalised.
'Having spoken to the Government, I know they are willing to meet MG to discuss and explore options and help that may be available and I am sure the same will be true for the local authority and the Local Enterprise Partnership.
'That is why I have appealed to MG to delay this decision pending such detailed meetings.'