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MG needs to be cheap as it is ‘pretty useless’, says Ling

An announcement by Nanjing Automobile Corporation that it will recommence final assembly of the MG TF roadster at Longbridge this April has been met with guarded optimism.

Up to 3,000 right-hand drive vehicles, sub-assembled in China, will be completed in Birmingham each year by a 250-strong workforce.

Ling Valentine, head of online vehicle leasing business LingsCars in Gateshead, says NAC will want to build a strong presence in Europe by pricing TF extremely cheaply to undercut its Mazda MX-5 rival.

It will take many years to re-establish the MG brand, Valentine says, but the opportunity for growth will be tempting to dealers.

“This is the start of a Chinese nuclear explosion in the European car industry,” she adds. “This old MG is a toe in the water, designed to give a Chinese brand some European presence. This car is not important – a good job as it’s pretty useless. It is the flood of second-rate imports that will follow that will sting the rest of the sub-prime brands like Fiat. In five years, when the Chinese manage to produce acceptable export cars, they will pour into Europe.”

More than 80 UK dealers have already shown interest in taking on MG, according to NAC’s Longbridge-based sales and franchising manager, Steve Cox.

Although Cox won’t reveal his target network size, he expects dealers to add the brand alongside an existing franchise. He also insists consumer demand will continue, claiming the MG brand has not suffered from Rover’s demise.

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