Yes, you read that right. You may or may not be aware of it, but MG is still alive in Europe, albeit only in the UK and Ireland, and no longer with classic British roadsters. But nonetheless it’s starting to make waves. In fact, it’s Europe’s fastest growing brand year-to-date with the exception of Tesla, which was introduced to the European market in 2013.
But that’s not the only reason why champagne bottles will be uncorked these days at the Chinese-owned brand, as 2014 is also the first year since its resurrection five years ago that its European sales have exceeded the 1.000 units milestone, and with seven months to spare. By the end of May, MG had already sold a total of 1.008 cars in the UK, compared to 513 over the full year 2013 and 782 in 2012, the brand’s previous record.
The legendary brand was bought by the Nanjing Automobile Group of China in 2005 from the bankrupt automaker MG Rover. Two years later, Nanjing was taken over by the Chinese state-owned SAIC Motor Corporation, headquartered in Shanghai. The new owner moved production of the MG TF to China and used the existing factory in Longbridge, Sussex to assemble cars from Completely Knock Down kits for the UK market. Unfortunately, the “new” TF was not a success and the brand has been busy to develop an all-new model line-up, which currently exists of the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia competitor MG6 and the MG3, a subcompact hatchback competing with cars like the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo. The MG3 has been introduced in the last quarter of 2013 and is responsible for the surge of sales for the brand, together with the addition of a turbo-diesel engine for the MG6. A compact hatchback called MG5 is in the pipeline as well.
Besides restarting production, the brand has had to set up an all-new dealer network since its return to the British market, and with just one model on offer that proved a challenging task, but since the introduction of the MG3, the brand has signed on 20 new dealers in seven months time and is on target to open another 20 dealers in the rest of the year, to have a total of 80 sales outlets in the UK by the end of 2014, supported by an also growing network of MG after sales specialists.
The 90-year old brand has plans to export the UK-assembled cars to other markets in Europe as well, but no official term for crossing the Channel has been announced, as the new MG would first like to settle as an established player in its “home” market the UK before investing into growth to markets where it doesn’t have a similarly strong heritage.