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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 March 2007, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
Chinese plant rolls out first MG
New MG TF sports car at Nanjing plant
Nanjing Automobile bought the MG brand in July 2005
The first Chinese-built MG sports cars have rolled off the production line in the eastern city of Nanjing.

The manufacturer, state-owned Nanjing Automobile, bought the assets of collapsed UK firm MG Rover in 2005.

It plans to produce 200,000 new cars every year and hopes to sell the vehicles around the world.

But many are likely to be sold to the booming domestic market, with demand for luxury vehicles soaring amongst the country's wealthy elite.

In six short months the Chinese have built a massive new factory and installed the robots and assembly lines they bought from the collapsed Rover, reports the BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Nanjing.

And it was with music from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and against a video wall showing shots of Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace that Nanjing Auto launched its two new models.

These are the MG7 saloon and the MG-TF sports car which, General Manager Zhang Xin told Reuters news agency, would be priced at between 180,000 and 400,000 yuan ($23,300 - $51,700; 11,800 - 26,300).

'Modern Gentleman'

The cars have not changed much, right down to the Union flag, which is still displayed proudly on their bodywork.

Launch of Chinese-built MG cars at Nanjing Auto plant

The MG brand is being marketed in China as "Modern Gentleman".

"We are keeping the original British flavour," said Mr Zhang, quoted by Reuters. "But in the future, the major market for MG will be in China."

The company wants to sell the cars not just in China but around the world.

But with the Chinese car market growing by 10 million new cars every year, Nanjing Auto will likely be selling most of its MGs in showrooms closer to home, our correspondent adds.

The MG plant in Nanjing is capable of producing 200,000 cars, 250,000 engines and 100,000 gearboxes annually.

Nanjing Auto also plans to build some MGs at Britain's Longbridge factory for the European market.

And the firm plans to start producing MGs for the US market in Ardmore, southern Oklahoma, next year.

Nanjing Auto acquired bankrupt MG Rover's models and assets for 53m ($104m) in 2005, outbidding China's biggest carmaker Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC).

Factory manager Paul Stowe, who relocated from Longbridge to China, told BBC Radio Five Live that Nanjing was "very hot and very dusty at times" in summer, and that "caused us some problems with the production facility".

"But with regard to working conditions and working practices it's very similar to anywhere else in the world," he added.


Do you have an MG car? You can send us your pictures to yourpics@bbc.co.uk




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The specific models rolling off the production line



SEE ALSO
In pictures: Chinese MG cars
27 Mar 07 |  In Pictures
MG Rover's Chinese reincarnation
27 Mar 07 |  West Midlands
China's new economic frontier
05 Feb 07 |  Business
Ex-Rover staff get Nanjing invite
28 Oct 05 |  Business
Rover sold to Nanjing Automobile
23 Jul 05 |  Business

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