The Good Oil: The most important car company you’ve never heard of
Search Driven for MG for sale
We tend to think of the modern MG that makes SUVs as a “new” or “challenger” brand, and in some respects it is. The rebooted company was only launched in New Zealand in 2019, although it came close to cracking the top 10 Kiwi new-vehicle brands for 2021.
What we’re really setting up to say here is that MG is not a small-time concern. It’s part of SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation), China’s number one carmaker for the last 16 years. SAIC delivered 5.81 million vehicles in 2021, under a variety of brands.
You could say it’s easy to be big when you’re 100 per cent owned by the Government, which SAIC is. But it really started to grow back in 1984, thanks to a partnership with Volkswagen (which needed a local partner to be allowed to make and sell cars in China). It was the catalyst to establish a huge supply chain; then came an additional joint venture, with General Motors from 1998. Today, there are eight major automotive groups within SAIC.
SAIC’s main automotive thrust of the past 15 years has been building its “own brand” business. It tried with the purchase of Korean maker SsangYong in 2004, but that all went south. So too did its attempt to buy bankrupt MG Rover in 2007, when it was gazumped by Nanjing Automotive. No problem, though; SAIC just bought Nanjing instead. Jaguar Land Rover retained the “Rover” brand though, which is why the luxury models produced by MG for China are called “Roewe”.
SAIC also acquired another British institution, LDV (vans and utes) in 2011, although in NZ it’s distributed separately by an independent company.
Those “self-branded” models from MG and LDV/Maxus (as LDV is branded in China) accounted for half of total sales last year. They are part of a massive machine.