China the new MG range provider


Bat­tle lines are be­ing drawn over who will hold the New Zealand dis­tri­bu­tion rights for iconic Bri­tish ve­hi­cle brand MG.

The brand, founded in the United King­dom in the early 1920s, is now owned by SAIC Mo­tor Ltd, China’s largest mo­tor man­u­fac­turer which also pro­duces the LDV com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles sold in New Zealand.

TheMGdis­tri­bu­tion rights are cur­rently held by Christchurch­head­quar­tered Bri­tish Mo­tor Dis­trib­u­tors (BMD), which has MGdeal­er­ships in Christchurch and Welling­ton, and an­other pend­ing in Auck­land.

But now the dis­trib­u­tor of the LDV prod­uct, Taupo­head­quar­tered Great Lake Mo­tor Dis­trib­u­tors (GLMD), wantsMG as well - and it says the fact it has been named LDV World Dis­trib­u­tor of the Year for the past three years in a row shows it would be a suc­cess.

"GLMD’s in­ten­tion is to do ev­ery­thing and any­thing pos­si­ble to ob­tain theMGdis­tri­bu­tion rights and mar­ketMGthrough our 19 strong dealer net­work," man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Rick Cooper told Stuff at the big Shang­hai Mo­tor Show.

"As the No 1 LDV dis­trib­u­tor in the world we are well placed to do this. MGis a per­fect fit with our LDV brand and we look for­ward to bring­ing this iconic brand back to New Zealand."

But BMD­manag­ing di­rec­tor John Fairhall, Christchurch, says his com­pany has no in­ten­tion of let­tingMGgo.

"We’ve got a five-year con­tract that we signed only a year ago, and we’re quite ex­cited be­cause we’re ex­pect­ing quite a bit of new prod­uct," he said when told of GLMD’s in­ten­tions.

"But that’s motor­ing - and it’s good to see Rick Cooper show­ing in­ter­est in MG. They’re do­ing a fan­tas­tic job with LDV, but we’d ar­gue that they are spe­cial­ists in the com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle mar­ket."

MGhas been vir­tu­ally ab­sent from the New Zealand new ve­hi­cle mar­ket in re­cent times, with fewer than 30 of the brand’s MG6 lift­backs and MG3 hatch­backs sold last year. But Fairhall says this has been be­cause the cars have only been avail­able with man­ual trans­mis­sions at a time when all the de­mand has been for au­tos.

But now a new gen­er­a­tion of MGve­hi­cles are be­ing de­vel­oped and launched by SAIC, many of which are avail­able for right-hand drive mar­kets in­clud­ing New Zealand.

These in­clude the GS small SUV that is about to go on sale in Aus­tralia, and the ZS which is SAIC’s first in­ter­net-con­nected com­pact SUV. There’s also likely to be a new MG6 sedan which would be anMGderiva­tive of the Roewe i6 now sold in China.

De­vel­op­ment ofMGprod­uct for world­wide mar­kets is part of an SAIC Mo­tor Ltd strat­egy to in­crease its over­seas sales as a per­cent­age of to­tal pro­duc­tion vol­ume. Last year the over­seas sales were less than 15 per cent of to­tal vol­ume, and the im­me­di­ate target is to in­crease this to 20 per cent.

"We in­tend prov­ing that China, as a brand, can do some­thing," said SAIC vice pres­i­dent Lan Qing­song at a me­dia con­fer­ence dur­ing the Shang­hai Mo­tor Show.

"The glob­al­i­sa­tion of Chi­nese en­ter­prise is coming - and SAIC in­tends be­ing at the fore­front of it."

Two new MG SUVs likely to come to New Zealand - the small GS (left) and the larger ZS.

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