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Sunday, 30 September, 2001, 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK
New sports car for Longbridge
MGX 180
The MG X80 will take on Porsche and Jaguar
A new luxury sports car is to be built in Birmingham instead of Italy.

MG Rover confirmed on Sunday that it will build up to 2,000 MG X80s a year at Longbridge instead of Qvale Modena in Italy.

Unions have welcomed the move and say it will give added confidence to the local economy.

The firm is planning to launch the coupé version of the 4.6 litre car next summer followed by a roadster version the following year.

It's excellent news which will give confidence to the West Midlands' economy

Adrian Ross, works convenor

MG bought Qvale Modena from its American owners in June.

The company produced the Mangusta sports car, on which the new MG is based.

Gordon Poynter, MG Rover's director of communications and public affairs, said the ability to house production of the X80 under one roof at Longbridge had contributed to the decision to move it from Italy.

Hand built

But he said transferring the operation was unlikely to create many new jobs.

"We are talking about a very low-line production. This is not a mass-produced car as it is mostly hand built."

"There may be some new supply-line jobs, but this is not really about jobs and I cannot say how many are likely to be on offer."

Mr Poynter said there were plans to sell the X80 in the United States, though no decision had been taken.

Roadster version

"The car is already designed to be sold in America, so this could be done."

"We intend to begin selling a coupé model next summer and a roadster version in 2003."

Longbridge trade union convenor Adrian Ross said: "It's excellent news which will give confidence to the West Midlands' economy."

Motor show

"It is very specialised work and employees will have to go through intensive training, but we have had people out in Italy over the past few months gaining expertise."

The MG X80 was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in May.

The car will sell for about £50,000. It will be powered by a V8 engine and boasts a top speed of 175 mph, reaching 0-60 mph in about five seconds.

It is expected to compete with rivals such as Porsche, Maserati and Jaguar.

See also:

12 Sep 01 | Business
Car makers hope for Frankfurt boost
08 Aug 01 | Business
MG Rover rapped over 'speed' ads
11 Jul 01 | Business
Where now for MG Rover?
11 Jul 01 | Business
MG Rover trims losses
19 Jun 01 | Business
MG Rover's drive for sporty image
19 May 01 | Business
BMW completes deal with MG Rover
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