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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 January 2007, 14:19 GMT
Longbridge car factory to reopen
MG model
Nanjing wants to set up a dealer network for the new MG
Car manufacturing is to resume at Longbridge, the former home of MG Rover, with its new Chinese owner set to start making MG models.

Nanjing Automobile said MG production would restart within months and that it would employ many former Rover workers.

The West Midlands plant has been inactive for almost two years after Rover's collapse in 2005.

Nanjing said its mission was to "revive, maintain and develop" the MG brand at the plant.

Production targets

Nearly 6,000 Rover workers lost their jobs when the company went into administration nearly two years ago.

Nanjing, which bought the factory site and other Rover assets in 2005 for 53m, has pledged to spend an initial 10m on reviving Longbridge.

I remember reading about Admiral Nelson and his message about England expects every man to do his duty... now we want the British people to support us
James Lin, Nanjing Automobile

Test production of the MG-TF sports car will begin within weeks with full-scale manufacturing set to start in April.

By that point, about 250 people will be employed at the factory, although staff numbers are expected to rise over time as production ramps up.

Nanjing's aim is to make 3,000 cars in the first year, rising to 12,000 by 2009. It will ultimately have the capacity to make 15,000 cars a year.

The news will be a major boost to the local economy which has seen a host of car firms scale down operations in recent years.

Public support

Nanjing appealed to the British public to back its new models, adding that it was in talks about setting up a network of dealers to sell the cars.

The TF model is expected to go on sale in the UK in July while hard-top versions will be available from next year.

The Longbridge plant
Longbridge produced 110,000 cars a year before Rover's collapse

"I remember reading about Admiral Nelson and his message about England expects every man to do his duty," said James Lin, Nanjing's operations director.

"We have restored production at Longbridge and now we want people to help us. If they love the MG brand or history, it is their country's car industry and history as well.

"Now we want the British people to support us."

Sales pressure

Most of the Rover workers who were made redundant after the firm's collapse have since found new jobs, many of them retraining to work in other areas.

But the reopening of Longbridge will be good news for suppliers, who were hit hard by Rover's collapse as well as the closure of other plants such as Peugeot's Ryton factory near Coventry.

"We are delighted that some form of production is returning to Longbridge and it keeps the MG brand alive," John Lamb, a spokesman for the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, said of the news.

"But the big problem is going to be whether they can sell the thing."

Nanjing says it will employ mostly ex-Rover staff

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