AM Online

MG TF to hit roads in August?

After months of toing and froing SAIC, owner of NAC MG UK, has now said it will start construction of its TF roadster at Longbridge in July.

But don't hold your breath - this follows two previous target start dates which had passed by with no sign of the market-ready cars.

The TF will be promoted at the British International Motor Show in July, and will be sold from August, insists SAIC. NAC MG had originally scheduled the car for launch in September 2007, then that shifted to March 2008. But its network of dealers-designate (no actual franchise contracts have yet been awarded) have come no closer to getting their first demonstrators.

Chen Hong, SAIC’s president told the Financial Times that he was also considering to export Chinese-made Roewe cars into Europe.

SAIC said it put back the relaunch of the TF because of its merger with NAC as well as concerns about build quality.

Hong told the FT: “The manufacturing consistency is stable, and we’re very comfortable with the quality.”

However there are still hurdles for MG to overcome:

The first is consumer uncertainty about its owner, the first Chinese carmaker to enter the UK market.

Second is that its launch model, the TF, is a 13-year-old design which will have to be loaded with equipment and priced cheaper than the Mazda MX-5 to get a look-in.

Third is that TF will consist of Chinese-produced parts, which have already raised sufficient quality concerns among its management to delay final assembly by more than a year.

And fourth is that its dealers still have not received binding contracts.

NAC MG hit back at claims last week that its plans for the UK were disintegrating after its body panel supplier Stadco pulled out of a deal with the company.

NAC has invested £38.4 million in the MG project so far.

Representatives from trade unions are expected to meet with SAIC bosses soon for them to set out their future plans at the Longbridge plant. There are industry rumours now circulating that some production of SAIC’s SsangYong and Roewe models could end up being set up at the factory.

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