The world famous British automobile brand, Morris Garages, better known as MG, is up for a potential return to Australia under its Chinese ownership.
Showing off a huge display at this week's Beijing motorshow, the Chinese owned and operated MG is in early stage talks with Australian distributors for an Australian comeback.
MG, which was acquired by Nanjing Automotive Group (China’s oldest Automobile manufacturer) for £53 million in 2005 ($85 million), has subsequently found itself under the umbrella of Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), which merged with Nanjing automotive in 2007. SAIC is one of the biggest vehicle manufacturers in China, having produced more than four million units last year. The company has been selling Higer buses in Australia under its partnership with White Motor Corporation (WMC), which will also import the Maxus V80 MPVs later this year.
At its Beijing motor show display, MG made every effort to showcase its British roots, with large displays of the union jack and a rather western approach to its design. The company continues to have a design and engineering presence in Longbridge (UK) where it also puts together Chinese made MGs that arrive unassembled.
MG’s 88 year history has had some ups and downs, at one stage the Chinese were contemplating a name change from Morris Garages to Modern Gentlemen but we are happy to report that it appears to have regained its original name. MG’s Chinese operations currently produce the MG6, which is on sale in international markets with a 1.8-litre petrol and 1.9-litre diesel. The smaller MG5 (Ford Focus size) and MG3 light hatchback concept were also on display at the Beijing motorshow.
Unlike some Chinese manufacturers that have tried to enter the European market unsuccessfully, MG’s MG6 gained mostly favourable reviews and even managed a respectable four-star safety rating in European New Car Assessment Program (ENCAP), the same score as a Jaguar XF.
The future of MG’s product line is still unclear and subject of much speculation but we do know that the brand is being taken seriously as an export opportunity by SAIC. Given WMC’s successful venture with the company to date, we can speculate that it’s first in line to take the distribution deal for our market. WMC is a private company but has at least one major dealer group as a stakeholder, which will be a big help when it comes to passenger car distribution. We suspect you'll see MG vehicles in local dealerships in 2014.