Longbridge owners reveal plant plans

20-07-2006

Longbridge owners reveal plant plans
A limited re-opening of the MG Rover Longbridge car plant in Birmingham which closed last year has been announced by its Chinese owners.

Nanjing Automobile, which bought the failed car manufacturer before closing the plant last year, revealed plans to revive production of 15,000 units of the two-seater MGF sports car at the plant Longbridge this lunchtime.

However, even if Nanjing goes ahead with its MGF plan, Longbridge's recovery is unlikely to match the pre-collapse scale of the plant.

Around 250 workers will be employed to operate the new machinery on the assembly line in a relatively small volume assembly arrangement – substantially less than the 6,000 who lost their jobs when the plant closed last year.

That number also falls well short of the 2,000 jobs pledged by Nanjing Automobile when it beat off competition from the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation to buy MG Rover, a fact the Transport and General Workers' (T&G) union has condemned.

"Longbridge and car making go hand-in-hand so today's announcement that Nanjing is to produce a very limited number of vehicles again is welcome but it’s well short of what they have previously said they'll do," commented Dave Osborne, T&G national secretary for the car industry.

"Former MG Rover workers had been led to believe there were more ambitious plans than these which is why today is a disappointment."

Car workers will, however, be reassured by the commitment to Longbridge made by Nanjing earlier this year, when the Chinese car firm renewed a 33-year lease on the site with its owner, St Modwen.

And Nanjing's president, Yu Jianwei, said today that "car enthusiasts all over the world can be reassured that MG, one of the great motoring brands, is safe in our hands".

"We are committed to re-building the marque in major markets, with cars supplied from the UK or China, as appropriate."

Despite Mr Jianwei's comments, Nanjing Automobile has commissioned the construction of a major factory in Oklahoma, which will take most of the production of MG cars out of Britain and into the US.

Related categories: Management / Business, Manufacturing / Industry, International / Overseas.


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