Page last updated at 16:51 GMT, Tuesday, 13 October 2009 17:51 UK

Keeping the MG Rovers on the road

By Peter Plisner
BBC Midlands Transport Correspondent

Four years after the collapse of MG Rover, many of its cars are still on the road.

Initial fears that they might disappear because of a lack of parts have proved unfounded.

Nigel Gray
Nigel Gray said he had to track down machinery in China to make the parts

One of the main reasons appears to be the success of a procurement process that has helped to maintain a reliable supply of spares for the dealer network.

MG Rover went into administration in April 2005 with the loss of 6,000 jobs.

Three months later the company's assets, including the equipment at the Longbridge factory in south Birmingham, were sold to Chinese car maker Nanjing.

It then shipped much of the plant and machinery out to China, where some of it was reassembled to create new production lines.

Worker expertise

But the so called "lift and shift" operation could have threatened the supply of some MG Rover spares.

The job of maintaining the supply of spares fell to Xpart, the company's parts business.

It had been sold off prior to the collapse of MG Rover.

With some of the tooling that produced the parts disappearing to China, staff from the Leicestershire-based company had a real challenge on their hands.

Xpart was helped by the fact that it could call on the expertise of several former MG Rover workers, including Nigel Gray, who was in charge of warranties at Longbridge.

He was one of the 6,000 workers made redundant by the collapse, but he was soon taken on by Xpart.

Chinese quality

As the company's strategic development director, one of his first tasks was to help track down the machinery needed to produce many of the parts previously made in the UK.

He said: "It was quite a challenge. There were several container loads of tools that were shipped out to China and we had to establish were the particular tools that we needed were and isolate them from other tools."

A Chinese assembly plant
Xpart said the parts coming from China were high quality

With the tooling located, the next issue for Xpart was how to guarantee the quality of the parts coming from China.

It is often more difficult dealing with a supplier who is halfway around the world than one that is just down the road.

Don Lindsay, Xpart's service marketing manager and another former Longbridge worker, said the standard of the parts coming from China had so far been good.

He said: "We're delighted. A lot of the components are going onto the newer Chinese products and they have really good quality control.

"We're really happy with the quality of the parts."

Although there are longer lead times for Chinese parts, because they have to be made and then shipped back to the UK, procuring parts from China has not been as difficult as some originally imagined.

Four years after the demise of MG Rover, owners are still able to keep their cars moving.

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