MG MOTOR UK has announced that car manufacturing will no longer take place in Longbridge with all car production being moved to China from now on.
It follows a strategic review by the company which deemed that ‘vehicle completion’ which had taken place in South Birmingham was no longer needed and MGs would arrive in the UK already built and ready for distribution.
The firm announces production staff would be moved to new roles where possible but there would be a ‘nominal amount of redundancies’, although it did not specify how many.
It added jobs done by more than 400 skilled design engineers and other staff at the SAIC Motor Technical Centre (SMTC) at Longbridge and MG Motor employees are secure.
And it said sales, marketing and aftersales operations would remain centralised at Longbridge, as would the MG parts warehouse.
A new vehicle logistics team will also be created and operated from Longbridge with responsibility for the management of all UK vehicle movements and customs quality checks.
The news comes amidst sales figures for MG in the UK continuing to rise – the company announced a 130 per cent increase in market share of new model registrations, contributing to a total year on year increase of 18 per cent.
There are now more than 70 MG dealers up and down the country, selling the MG3 supermini and all-new SUV, the MG GS.
The move has been criticised by Northfield MP Richard Burden who labelled the decision to close the assembly line ‘hugely disappointing’ and ‘premature’.
“I understand the business concerns MG have surrounding costs of assembly at Longbridge, which have undoubtedly been aggravated by problems with the strength of the pound.
“However, more discussions should have taken place to explore alternatives and options before any decisions were finalised.
“Having spoken to the Government, I know they are willing to meet MG to discuss and explore options and help that may be available and I am sure the same will be true for the local authority and the Local Enterprise Partnership.”
Mr Burden has appealed to the company to delay the decision and urged it to meet with the Government.
“I’m pleased that MG want to continue their operation in the UK, including the successful Shanghai Automotive Technical Centre at Longbridge which is associated with MG.
“We can build on that and that is another reason why I think this announcement is premature.
“It is vital MG get around the table with myself, Government, LEP and Birmingham City Council to try to find a solution.
“The voice of employees through their trade unions also needs to be heard. We need to do this in the interests of my constituents, local business and the broader automotive industry.”
Matthew Cheyne, MG Motor UK’s head of sales and marketing, said: “With efficiency and flexibility both key to long-term market success, off-shoring vehicle production is a necessary business decision.
“Relocating to state-of-the-art overseas production facilities will allow faster access to product and help to meet ever-increasing customer demand, all while maintaining the highest levels of production quality.
“In addition, improving production scale efficiencies will support ongoing sales growth in the UK market – a key priority.
“We have been in discussion with Government representatives on a local and national level to explore alternative solutions moving forward.
“We will continue to do so during this period of consultation and will work with all parties to find the best outcomes for those people likely to be affected within the company.”