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MG to switch car assembly from UK to China

Brand blames small size of UK operation and post-Brexit costs.

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MG is to end assembly of cars in the UK – and according to its sales and marketing head, Brexit is partly to blame.

The historic British brand, which is owned by Chinese giant SAIC, began building cars on part of the former Rover plant at Longbridge, Birmingham, in 2011, six years after MG Rover collapsed and closed the plant. Initially the MG6 saloon and more recently the MG3 supermini were assembled using kits of parts made in China and shipped into the UK.

In future, however, the cars will be fully produced in China and then imported into Britain ready for distribution to the brand’s dealer network.

According to sales & marketing head Matthew Cheyne, the change has been made for a number of reasons but primarily because the small UK operation is not economically viable when compared with the larger, more modern facilities that SAIC has in China.

But he also told Autocar that the drop in the value of the pound since the UK voted to leave the European Union had also made producing cars at Longbridge more expensive and not cost-effective.

The decision will cost 25 jobs at the plant but the site will continue to employ 300 people, as Cheyne insists that the brand’s design and development centre will remain at Longbridge.

The BBC reports that the decision has drawn heavy criticism from Richard Burden, Labour MP for Birmingham Northfield, who dubbed it “hugely disappointing and 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,” Burden said.

“However, more discussions should have taken place to explore alternatives and options before any decisions were finalized,” he added.

MG is pushing ahead with plans for a more global product line-up with an SUV sister to the GS set to be the next model launched.

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Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.