With global design studios, the brand is carving its own path, despite what punters say.
Any design similarities between MG cars and those of European or Japanese manufacturers are irrelevant, according to the brand, given its near-100 year history and the general direction of the modern automotive design.
Speaking with CarAdvice at the brand’s R&D centre in Shanghai today, MG chief designer, Shao Jinfeng, said the brand is more British than ever and criticism of its identity or similarity to other brands is not a concern.
“It brings the same feeling,” Jinfeng said of the Chinese-owned car company’s European-inspired designs.
“A lot of people feel that … car design is already a hundred years old, so it’s [all] similar, but that doesn’t matter. We need to do be great again, we want to do exciting production for the market.”
The SAIC-owned MG brand has four design studios around the world, with Shanghai serving as base to satellite studios in California and the UK. That gives its design team the credibility of truly global design.
“This MG brand, the brand is a British brand. We just have a China global team, not just Chinese… it must be a European feeling. We never say it’s a Chinese brand, we really [want to] inspire this brand [as] it has [almost] 100 years of history, I want to make this brand greater than before,” Jinfeng mused.
According to Jinfeng, MG has never been as successful as it is now, selling hundreds of thousands of cars, and rapidly expanding in China and across the globe. This success, he argues, is why the brand can’t always look backwards, but instead must be willing to create a new future with respect to its past.
“I want to bring some key work from British but not all, bring some key work. But for China customers, they don’t understand what is British. British is too high up, shoes very expensive, the Rolls Royce, Bentley top expensive for a normal customer. They can’t understand what it is, it’s too far away from normal customers," Jinfeng explained.
“To be honest, I feel this is much, much more British than before. This brand was nothing in China, nobody knew what was this car. If you take [away] the logo, people will think this is closer to VW.”
MG’s plans for its continued expansion will see it push aggressively into the Chinese market, before it further grows its export footprint.
The parent company, SAIC, is using Australia as a test bed for its global expansion. Our market is the very first where the brand is taking a factory-distributorship approach, rather than outsourcing to a local company like Ateco, which takes care of sister brand LDV.