He will shortly be contacting UK dealers prepared to make an investment in MG.
Cox was one of the new full-time staff of NAC-MG Ltd – the formal name of the Nanjing-owned enterprise – at the London press conference on July 17. He has been involved with selling the MG TF sports car since the launch 10 years ago and also had a pivotal role in the joint venture with the Indian carmaker Tata that gave rise to the short-lived CityRover economy car.
Like other members of the newly-hired senior staff, Cox was keeping a low profile in the audience rather than being on stage. He admitted that he was so new to the company that “he didn’t even have a phone number yet” and was coy about plans.
According to the timetable given by NAC (Nanjing Automobile Corporation), car building in China and assembly at Longbridge will start in the first half of next year and marketing will start in the second half.
There is no guarantee that a second model will be salvaged from the defunct MG Rover range, although NAC suggests that sales of ZT will begin in 2008. Shanghai Automotive Industry Company (SAIC) claims to have bought the rights to all Rover models. All MGs are rebranded Rovers other than the MG TF and SAIC has promised to defend its legal position.
As both Chinese companies are state-owned, many observers in China believe that a deal will be done, or that the weaker NAC will be folded into SAIC, which is China’s strongest car company.
Yu Jianwei, president of NAC, said that he would be making an initial investment of £10m in the part of the Longbridge site it has secured on a 33-year lease. About 60 people are working for NAC-MG at Longbridge now and more are to be recruited.
However, the production figures being quoted are around 15,000 – far fewer than the 100,000 suggested when Nanjing acquired the Rover business last year. And it is expected to employ fewer than 200, against the 1,200 originally indicated.