30 June 2016

SAIC's UK



I find the China car giant SAIC's UK operation interesting, based at Longbridge, Birmingham, UK. They have a design centre there, which you can learn more about by clicking here. The interesting part is how they make cars there also (click here for an earlier article).

It started in 2008 when MG TF production restarted but only 900 cars were made over nearly three years. Then the MG 6 GT 5-door hatchback was introduced, soon followed by the 4-door (Magnette). The MG 3 super mini began in 2012, and by 2014 there were some 400 people working there, up from about 200 when production recommenced. Now the new MG GS SUV is being launched about now (I wrote about it here), which should broaden the brand's appeal. It will be imported fully built up from China.

Dealerships have been added steadily and now a sizable number have come on board. A list of those can be seen by clicking here. It's taken a while to establish a network but more models and a determination to see this through by SAIC will have helped dealers to make the decision to join.

I expected them to lose heart and disappear after a few years of losses. However, the whole process has been handled with patience and steady progress has been the result. The car assembly is from kits, so tooling costs haven't been a huge cost. Labour is probably the major UK component.

It amazes me that in the 21st century, where everything is hurried and has to be of enormous scale, this small assembly operation exists at all. Yet it is working and is growing. No attempt has been made to reach outside the UK for sales but with so much to do within Britain, I guess that is not yet a priority. As a cheese advertisement in New Zealand says "Good things take time".

The sales data below is about as good as I can ascertain. If anyone can add or clarify the data, please do so with a comment or on rdc1234@gmail.com.


Year MGTF MG 6 MG 3 Total

2009 374 374

2010 285 285

2011 247 115 362

2012
774 13 787

2013
291 209 500

2014
698 1,628 2,326

2015
549 2,603 3,152

2016
140 1,124 1,264

Total 906 2,567 5,577 9,050

12 comments:

  1. Sadly the assembly operation at Longbridge has now ceased. MG3 and GS are fully built in China and imported to the UK through Bristol docks. Expect some news regarding jobs at Longbridge to be in the media in the next few months.

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  2. Hello Obadiah. I'd like to know why you can say this with confidence. I can be contacted on email, as the article says.

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  3. It is simply not true - I have a friend that works on the assembly line at Longbridge. He concedes that not all UK cars are British assembled but that many batches are. I expect the Longbridge operation to remain steady.

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  4. Thanks Craig for the reply. It's nice to get some feedback that comes from someone on the production line. There are so many conflicting statements floating around the Internet.

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  5. I strongly recommend that Craig England asks his friend again as the situation has very much changed. As I previously posted expect news about jobs at Longbridge to be in the media within the next few months.

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  6. As much as we all want MG UK to succeed, by having more and more product come to these shores ready built, is meaning less to do at Longbridge, i have heard these rumblings too about jobs at Longbridge, and until they get their finger out and have a full range of cars, with engine and gearbox choices, built here, the chances of closure, or part closure are more than half.

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  7. As an aside - the link you have placed thats aledgedly the list of dealers, well, thats all rubbish, you have loads on there that have not sold any MG's since 2005

    http://mg.co.uk/dealers/?view_all=1

    Try using this link, its for MG, and the dealer network that is NOW, not 11 years old.... you will notice two new dealers on there that have yet to be announced.

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  8. I said at the bottom of the article: The sales data below is about as good as I can ascertain. If anyone can add or clarify the data, please do so. I realise the mistake and corrected it.

    The tone of your note however (unsigned; you can still leave your name) is typical of the whole subject. It seems the operation of SAIC in the UK polarises people and irritates some.

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  9. Looking at a few articles on MG sites it seems I have been proven correct about final assembly ending at Longbridge. Any chance of an apology from Craig England for effectively calling me a liar?

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  10. I hope you are wrong Obadiah. There did seem to be batch assembling, the stop start nature of that causing confusion. It would help if the company would say something. Maybe they are unsure and are constantly assessing demand and costs as to whether more will be assembled. I haven't checked around since writing the article so am not sure either way.

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  11. And now its official.

    http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/business/manufacturing/car-assembly-axed-longbridge-despite-11927411#ICID=sharebar_facebook

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  12. Apparently so. Thanks for the heads up.

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