West Midlands News
Second boost for car
industry as Nanjing sets a start date
Jun 18 2008 By Duncan Tift, Business
The Midlands automotive sector has received a second major shot in
the arm with the news that MG owner Shanghai Automotive has told UK dealers it
expects to produce 600 of the new TF LE500 models between the start of
production in August and the end of the year.
That came as the new boss
of Jaguar told Birmingham executives yesterday that the company is staging a
fight back against its rivals .
He spoke out just 24 hours after Jaguar
Land Rover revealed plans to launch a recruitment drive to find up to 600 new
employees, less than a month after a £1.15 billion takeover by Tata Motors of
India was completed.
SAIC’s UK dealers says first of the new sports cars
are expected to be in UK showrooms in September and price details are expected
to be released in the next few weeks.
Nanjing Automotive, which had
previously owned the Longbridge brand, appointed 50 UK dealers last summer ready
for the scheduled launch of the model in September last year.
its merger with SAIC at the start of this year there had been concerns that the
dealership arrangements could change.
However, one dealer has now confirmed
that the original supply agreement is being upheld and the first cars will be
rolling off the production lines at Longbridge very shortly.
Cars in Loughborough was the first UK dealer appointed to sell the
Managing director David Woods said: “We had struggled for a long time
to get information from China about what might be happening.
following the completion of the merger things have become a lot clearer and SAIC
seems to have got its act together.”
Mr Woods said the company appeared to
have resolved problems caused by the withdrawal of Stadco from its agreement to
supply body panels for the new cars.
“Production has started in China of
the steel panels, which are now being produced on new presses. The word is that
the quality is much better, which is very encouraging.”
“We have been
told that production at Longbridge will be ramped up in July and the cars will
be produced from August ready for delivery in September. They are expecting to
make around 600 units between now and the end of the year.
“There is no
word on costs yet but I have taken part in a cost clinic recently and prices
should be released soon,” he added.
Mr Woods said he was also optimistic
about the future of the brand with new models said to be in the
It has previously been announed that there are plans to produce
new models at Longbridge, which will include a replacement for the ageing TF,
which first hit UK roads in 1995.
An updated replacement is expected in
Of the other new models there is speculation they will include a
new luxury saloon, possibly an updated Rover 75, plus a new mid-range model,
possibly a European version of the Roewe 550 which was one of the stars of the
recent Beijing Motor Show.
Meanwhile, Geoff Cousins, managing director of
Jaguar UK, said he was confident Indian owner Tata had bought the company “for
the right reasons”.
Speaking at the Breakfast Connections event run by
Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Birmingham Forward, and held at the Botanical
Gardens, he admitted Jaguar faced big challenges and was still behind some of
its premier competitors.
Mr Cousins admitted: “We have been on the back
foot for a long time. We have been beaten up.” But he said the new Jaguar XF had
given confidence to everyone at the company.