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Last Updated: Monday, 17 July 2006, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Nanjing puts 10m into Longbridge
Longbridge Works - April 2006
Machinery remains ready to use within the Longbridge works
The MG is to rise from the ashes of the Longbridge car plant, after MG Rover's Chinese owners pledged to invest millions in the Birmingham site.

Nanjing Automobile will put an initial 10m to be invested in resuming production of the MGF sportscar.

Longbridge will have an annual capacity of 15,000 cars, which will be sold in the UK and Europe, Nanjing said.

About 80 people currently work at the site and more may be taken on in future, Nanjing chief Yu Jianwei added.

"Car enthusiasts all over the world can be reassured that MG, one of the great motoring brands, is safe in our hands," he said.

"We are full of confidence about this project because we are passionate about it."
Nanjing chief Yu Jianwei

"We are committed to re-building the marque in major markets, with cars supplied from the UK or China, as appropriate."

Birmingham Council welcomed the move, saying "a prosperous future of economic opportunity and innovation lies ahead".

China's oldest motor manufacturer beat off competition from Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation to buy MG Rover after its collapse.

Job hopes

Around 6,000 workers lost their jobs when the car group went out of business.

Former MG Rover workers had been led to believe there were more ambitious plans than these, which is why today is a disappointment
T&G general secretary Dave Osborne

When Nanjing bought the factory it had signalled that up to 2,000 jobs could be created at the site through a research and development facility.

Nanjing had, earlier this year, agreed a 33-year lease on Longbridge with site owners St Modwen.

Cars will be assembled from kits of components, supplied from Nanjing's factory in China, which is currently being built.

However, Professor Kevin Morley, director of business studies at Warwick University and a former Rover director, said the move would not mark a return to "proper" car production.

"I think what's going to happen is they (Nanjing) will build say 10,000 to 15,000 cars in their factory in China because that's seriously the cheapest way of doing it," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

"Then they'll do what's called CKD - completely knocked down - they'll kind of take the wheels off, put it in a crate and send it on."

Workers in Longbridge would then effectively re-assemble the cars, Mr Morley said. "It's assembly of cars, not manufacture," he added.

'Disappointment'

The Transport and General Workers Union (T&G) said Nanjing's plans for limited car assembly at Longbridge had failed to live up to expectations.

"Former MG Rover workers had been led to believe there were more ambitious plans than these, which is why today is a disappointment," said Dave Osborne of the T&G.

Mr Yu added that the firm was confident reopening Longbridge would be a success.

"We are full of confidence about this project because we are passionate about it," he said.

Around 110,000 cars were built at Longbridge in the year before MG Rover went out of business.

Nanjing has also announced plans to build a new assembly plant in Oklahoma in the US.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
An interview with a former MG worker



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