Design work on the 45 Series replacement due to enter production in 2006 will also be completed in January, Rod Ramsey said.
Rejecting suggestions that MG Rover had jeopardised the completion of its joint venture with SAIC by describing it as a ‘done deal’ last month, before Chinese government approval had been secured, Ramsey said two agreements with SAIC had been signed in the past week covering the 45 Series replacement and another planned new model. SAIC is understood to have made an initial payment of over £30m to cover its contribution to joint model development in a venture in which SAIC is expected to hold a 70% share.
It was also announced that MG Rover, which employs about 5,500 workers at Longbridge, is seeking to recruit a further 200 engineers and purchasing specialists in preparation for the joint development of a total of four new model ranges with SAIC. Executives said they believed Longbridge could again produce over 200,000 cars a year once the new model families came on stream between now and 2010, though no sales forecast was confirmed for 2005.