MG stopped selling cars in the United States in the early 1980s, but their popularity here is still strong. As such, I have kept an eye on their constant changes in ownership and their products. I even visited their display at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show and got the impression they were anxious to get back into the United Kingdom, and perhaps the United States.
MG (Morris Garages) was founded by Cecil Kimber in 1924. The company exchanged hands multiple times before being sold off to Nanjing Automobile in 2006. Shortly thereafter, Nanjing Automobile and MG Motor became a subsidiary of the China-based Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) in 2007.
Through that time, most of the vehicles built under the MG name were reworked, older Rovers. The MG6, was launched in June 2011. Although other vehicles were built during the ownership and transition from China back to the Longbridge, Birmingham, UK plant, it was the launch of the MG6 in 2011 that showed an almost completely new vehicle for the automaker.
Assembled in Longbridge, the MG6 comes from knock-down kits produced in China. These kits consist of partially completed platforms of the vehicle. The MG6 has some components (front-end sub-frame) shared with the Rover 75 – a vehicle initially produced in the late 1990s. Still, the design is sleek European and the overall buzz for the MG6 is pretty good.
There have been exceptions. A story cracked by China Car Times, The Sunday Times and Autoblog hit the web regarding negative press for the MG6. Television personality and automotive journalistic rock-star Jeremy Clarkson panned the MG6. He disliked the quality, disputed its Britishness, was critical about the safety scores and generally disliked the car.
On the other side of the argument, MG has rebutted all (or most) of Mr. Clarkson’s criticisms – especially his statements regarding the NCAP score, which is publicly displayed as four out of five stars. Click (here) for the MG6’s NCAP rating.
Despite this, MG is in the process of bringing out a slew of new vehicles. What I find promising is the potential for future products to increase in quality, coolness and create new jobs globally. I also like their new, tiny MG3. Something about that little bugger is appealing to me.
I hope to drive one – some day.
As it is, MG is a story to watch for all of us. It could be an indicator of where China is in regards to their ability to adapt to western markets. As I find competition to be the best thing for consumers, I can’t wait to see what they do.
Here’s some good Chinese MG vibe in this fun video from the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show!