MG Motor overview
We give you the lowdown on the Chinese company and its plans for India
It's time to invite the neighbours as they prepare a portfolio of vehicles for the Indian market. Abhik Das recently got an opportunity to get a glimpse into SAIC's automotive might
China as a country has progressed well beyond what many would perceive it to be. A trip to Shanghai revealed how little the country is in a developing state rather, is already much ahead of many of its South East Asian counterparts. The visit was specifically aimed at showcasing SAIC Motor Corporation's facilities - China's largest automobile manufacturer. SAIC has been ranked 36th in the list of Fortune 500 companies and that's saying something. The company gave us a sneak peek into their technical centre in Anting, a town located in the Jiading district of Shanghai. The SAIC R&D centre covers 4,19,000sq m and houses the design centre, architecture lab, NVH lab, thermal wind tunnel lab, powertrain lab and many other facilities that help the company test various active and passive mechanical components along with electronic ones under simulated test conditions.
It was here that the announcement was made to introduce an all-electric SUV that would be a global product, as the company's second launch in India. More on that a little later as we intend to draw your attention to its first launch. An SUV again, the first ve- hicle will come bearing the MG badge. MG Motors (Morris Garages) is a firm that has its roots in the United Kingdom dating back to 1924. At the time, its line of cars included a range of sports cars, roadsters and cabriolets which even found fans in the Royal Family. Decades later, MG has evolved into a manufacturer whose portfolio includes hatchbacks, sedans and SUVs loaded with hybrid powertrains and connected mobility. MG vehicles are manufactured at the parent company's Lingang, Nanjing, Henan and Fujian plants in China while there are two international facilities in Rayong, Thailand and the recently
inaugurated Halol facility in Gujarat, India.
MG's first SUV for India was teased in a silhouette outlined as part of a presentation. From the looks of it, there isn't anything in the MG portfolio that matches the SUV. Delving deeper, the only car that fits that silhouette turns out to be an SUV made by Baojun - a company owned by an SAIC, General Motors and Wuling Automobile joint venture. To curb any scope of confusion, let's establish that SAIC owns a plethora of automotive brands and the cars produced share their technology and platforms albeit inheriting their brand's image and heritage.
Thus the car headed to our shores may be sold as a Baojun in China or even a Roewe, another SAIC sub-brand, but will wear the MG badge and definitely possess the quality and character of the brand. Right now, there isn't much information about the final car but what we do know is that the MG car to be launched in India will be a mid-size SUV which will find competition with the likes of the Hyundai Creta, Mahindra XUV500, Tata Safari and should offer a 7-seater option. Our best guess is that it will be priced between Rs 15 lakh to 20 lakh at launch.
This is however, is a calculated guess considering what we saw at SAIC's Guangde Proving Ground. A test facility that spans a massive 5.67sq km and is touted as the largest in the ASEAN region, the Guangde Proving Ground consists of 60 plus kilometres of test roads and more than 70 variations of pavements. Moreover, this is where we not only got to see the cars under the MG and Roewe brand but also
experience them. The MG 6 sedan may reflect design cues of popular German marques but showed impeccable material quality with impressive fit and finish that on the face of it, can be rated higher than some popular mass production manufacturers in India. The other cars are sold under the Roewe brand is the RX5 is the best-selling mid-size SUV. We briefly drove its pure electric version and even the Marvel X which introduces internet and artificial intelligence technology as the car features AliOS, an operating system developed by the Alibaba Group. With the onset of a new era that revolutionises the use of internet and cloud computing, MG Motor is aspiring
MG 6 SEDAN SHOWED IMPECCABLE MATERIAL QUALITY WITH IMPRESSIVE FIT AND FINISH
to stand out with connected mobility in their second launch for India, the all-electric SUV.
Currently, MG Motor India aims to launch and begin sales in the second quarter of 2019 with 45 dealers and 100 touchpoints for sales as well as after sales services. The company also aims to hire 1,500 employees by the end of 2019. The current capacity at the Halol plant stands at 80,000 units per year with an aim to further expand to 200,000 units.
Rajeev Chaba, president & MD, MG Motor India presides over a presentation at the SAIC R&D centre at Anting, Shanghai, China