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MG Rover to build 75 in China

MG Rover Group is expecting to export cars from China as part of its proposed joint venture with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation.

The news indicates that MG Rover's proposed partnership with the state-owned SAIC, which is awaiting official approval from the Chinese government, is much more far-reaching than had previously been thought by observers in China.

At present none of the foreign manufacturers operating in China with local partners is licensed to export vehicles, though Honda’s Chinese plant is permitted to export built-up vehicles.

Rod Ramsay, the sales operations director at MG Rover, says: "If we have a model that is essentially European, we will produce it at our Longbridge plant but there is nothing to stop us importing from China or exporting from the UK."

Rover is planning to manufacture its 75 model in China and sell it to domestic customers.

However, the company has revealed that its new medium-sized car, the designs of which are being finalised, will be produced for export in both the UK and China.

"Part of the deal is developing a product plan for the long term," Ramsay said. "Everybody is so focused on the new medium car that it has talismanic status, but there is no limit on the products we are looking at with SAIC. This isn't just a one-way street, these guys are big operators and they have an ambition to produce 1m cars a year."

SAIC produces 600,000 cars a year, while MG Rover is expected to sell 100,000 vehicles this year. The figure is just half the company's sales four years ago when MG Rover was sold off by BMW.

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