Longbridge car plant to reopen

29-05-2007

Longbridge car plant to reopen
MG Rover's former car plant at Longbridge in Birmingham is reopening today under Chinese ownership.

The Nanjing Automobile Corporation intends to build TF sports cars at the factory.

A cavalcade of MG cars is expected to be driven around the plant as part of a special ceremony to mark its resurrection.

The Longbridge factory, which until its demise had been the country's last British-owned mass car producer, was previously forced to halt production when former owner MG Rover collapsed in 2005.

About 6,000 local jobs were lost following the closure of the West Midlands plant, which caused a political row ahead of the last general election.

Nanjing, which bought troubled MG Rover in 2005, expects its TF models to begin rolling off the production line later this year.

The reopening of the Longbridge factory has been welcomed by the Unite union, which intends to press for further jobs to be created at the plant.

"Longbridge has a long and proud history within the automotive industry and Nanjing's ownership will be another important chapter so we wish it every success," said the union's regional industrial organiser, Eric McDonald.

However commentators have cast doubt over the long-term viability of resuming production at the site.

A Nanjing spokesman told the BBC that Longbridge would only be used as an assembly unit for the new MG TF, although it will also manufacture the car's bodywork.

The production of most of the vehicle's components will continue to take place in China, which could restrict the extent which the Birmingham factory is able to take on more staff.

Analysts also warn that it is currently unclear how mush demand exists for the new MG TF models.



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