MG has ended UK production of its cars at its Longbridge plant, near Birmingham, five years after resuming car assembly there. The brand’s UK-based design and development operations will continue, but the final assembly of cars will now take place in China and elsewhere in the world. MG’s head of sales and marketing, Matthew Cheyne, said the main reason for the decision was MG’s intention to streamline its production process, and the small-scale production in Longbridge could no longer compete with its larger, more modern facilities in China. “Small volumes aren’t economically viable at a site of Longbridge’s size,” he said. “Elsewhere in the world, we have state-of-the-art facilities, so it’s more cost-effective to build them elsewhere and import them.
There was no efficient way to carry on doing it in the UK.” Twenty-five jobs will be lost at the plant, but more than 300 people will continue to be employed there, as sales, marketing and aftersales will remain.
Extra staff have been recruited in the engineering and electrical component testing departments, and MG’s parent company, SAIC, has also recently invested in a £1.2 million testbed at Longbridge, suggesting a commitment to UK operations outside of production.
The UK’s vote to leave the EU is also part of the reason for the decision, due to the effect on exchange rates of the drop in the value of sterling.
Cheyne said: “Going forward, we have the availability for production to build in China and other markets. We’re part of a massive global company, which we haven’t been taking advantage of and now can.” The move is also part of a new initiative by SAIC to build a more global range of products with qualities suitable for multiple markets, including the UK. This is instead of the MG’s current strategy of re-engineering and redesigning cars for the U K that were destined for international markets.