Chinese Automaker to Build MGs in OK

Nanjing Automobile Will Build MG Coupes in Oklahoma (Update2)
c.2006 Bloomberg News
(Adds comment by MG Motors executive in fourth paragraph.)
By Barbara Powell
July 12 (Bloomberg) — Nanjing Automobile Group Corp., a state-owned Chinese company, plans to open a factory in Oklahoma to build MG sports cars. It also will begin producing other MG vehicles in England and China.
Nanjing Auto, which owns the rights to the MG brand, would be the first Chinese carmaker to open a U.S. factory. The plant will be built in early 2007 in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and make the TF Coupe, Nanjing said today in a statement.
MG Motors North America Inc., a closely held company 49 percent owned by Nanjing Auto, will market and distribute MG vehicles in the U.S. and Europe and run the assembly plant. About 550 jobs will be created in Oklahoma, Nanjing said.
“We will be re-establishing and re-igniting the brand here and in Europe,” said Duke T. Hale, chief executive officer of MG Motors North America and a shareholder in the company, which will be based in Oklahoma City.
Production in Oklahoma will begin in May or June 2008, Hale said in an interview.
MG Motors North America is majority owned by investment groups including Oklahoma Sovereign Development LLC and Davis Capital LLC. Hale, a former chief operating officer at American Isuzu, is an investor in Davis Capital.
Nanjing Auto also plans to build three MG sedan models at a factory in Nanjing, China, and the MG TF Roadster at a plant in Longbridge, England.
Nanjing Auto bought the assets of MG Rover Group Ltd. from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP last year after the British automaker collapsed with debts of 1.4 billion pounds ($2.58 billion).
MG’s History
Four businessmen, led by auto executive John Towers, bought Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s Rover Cars for 10 pounds in May 2000 to form MG Rover. The business had racked up losses of $6 billion in six years before BMW sold it.
MG Rover appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers as administrator on April 8 last year after it ran out of cash.
The U.K. carmaker, which dates back about 100 years, employed 6,100 workers when it collapsed. At its peak in the 1960s, the maker of Rover sedans and MG sports cars employed 250,000 people and had one of the biggest factories in the world in Longbridge, where it was based.
“This is fabulous news, it’s what we’ve been waiting for since 1980, when MG left North America,” said Richard Miller, 62, the managing director of Clinton, New Jersey-based MG Drivers Club of North America, which has 702 members.
“As long as Nanjing produces what MG always was — an affordable sports car — then I think MG enthusiasts will be very happy,” said Miller, who owns a 1974 MG BGT.
Chinese Automakers
Nanjing was founded in 1947 and has an annual production capacity of about 180,000 vehicles, according to the company’s Web site. Nanjing’s major products are trucks, cars and travel buses. The company also makes the Palio and Siena cars for Italy’s Fiat SpA.
Two other Chinese carmakers plan to begin selling vehicles in the U.S. in 2008.
Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. said in January that its Free Cruiser compact car is undergoing U.S. road and emission tests and should go on sale for less than $10,000 by 2008. Geely has set a goal of selling 25,000 to 50,000 cars a year in the U.S. starting in 2008, John Harmer, vice president and chief operating officer of its U.S. unit, said in January.
Chery Automobile Co. also plans to begin selling small and inexpensive cars in the U.S. in 2008. The company was China’s first auto exporter, selling cars in Malaysia and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.


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