Fleet News

Longbridge springs back to life

MG sportscars will be back in British showrooms after production of the TF roadster gets under way again in Birmingham next year.

Longbridge, the factory mothballed with the loss of 6,500 jobs after the controversial collapse of MG Rover last year, will resume output of the two-seater model next spring.

The car will be assembled from kits made at a new factory in China and it will feature some cosmetic changes and an engine uprated to meet the Euro 4 emissions standard, Nanjing Automobile Corporation president Yu Jianwei said in London.

Output will reach 15,000 units per year.

Nanjing will also start building the ZT saloon in China next year and this car will be on sale in Britain in 2008, followed soon afterwards by ‘enhanced’ versions of the ZR range. The company will also produce the ZR, but this model will be restricted to the domestic market.

Jianwei said: ‘We have the assets and current technology platforms of MG, but it is our aim to meet differing consumer needs with different platforms. We will use improved research and development facilities at Longbridge to further improve this brand. It is our aim to fully revive an iconic name that has a long history.’

Professor Garel Rhys, director of the Cardiff University centre for automotive studies, said Nanjing appeared set for steady growth and added: ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if Longbridge doesn’t end up producing MG saloons again one day.’

After paying £53 million for the assets of MG Rover, the Chinese firm has taken out a 33-year lease on the Longbridge site and made an initial investment of £10 million in its development.

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