AM Online

Longbridge

Before i made my way to the 2008 AM Awards in Birmingham I drove to Longbridge in an attempt to see if there was anything going on there.

I had imagined i would get there and I’d catch a worker for a quick quote: "There's only so many cups of tea we can drink!"

I was planning to meet Tim Rose, deputy editor of AM, there but my morning meeting at the ABP Club ran over.

Tim headed to Longbridge on his own and managed to get an interview with Steven Cox, Nanjing MG UK's sales and marketing manager, to find out what the workers where building in there. Turns out not much.

I got a text from Tim to say he'd bagged an interview for the mag (keep your eyes peeled for that story in a future issue), but i drove there anyway in an attempt to take some pictures to go with the story.

Despite covering the story when MG Rover bit the dust in 2005 i'd never been to Longbridge or really seen what the factory was like.

As i drove past the job centre close by to the factory (which ironically had queues of people waiting outside) I was amazed at just how derelict the building was. Pretty much every single window had been smashed with rocks by "yoofs" and it looked really grubby. Maybe the greyness of the day helped extenuate how bleak it looked.

I found gate Q and there was the Chinese flag flying next to the British and MG flags. I approached the gate after parking my car to try and find some signs of life before taking my snaps, but alas, there was none.

Nanjing has already signed up its dealers for the UK, but at the moment they've got no cars to sell and it doesn't look like they will be anytime soon.

According to Cox, the factory workers are receiving "training" while they wait for cars to erect from the flat pack boxes that arrive from China.

After initially announcing that models would arrive here last year, Nanjing are looking at a delay of setbacks that will see the TF launch in the UK nearer autumn 2008.

This spells out a huge problem for the brand in the UK. While it's essential that when the Nanjing MGs go on sale here without any quality issues at all, the SAIC owned manufacturer is facing what I believe to be an extremely difficult challenge.

It’s based on a 20-year design which was refreshed in 2001. So even at its most up-to-date, it’s a design that is seven years past it. A year in car manufacturer terms is a lifetime. Why would any one in their right mind buy one?

Will the fact that it’s an affordable classic with some British baggage be enough?


 

 

 

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