Longbridge employees face uncertainty following the news that MG Motor UK’s Chinese parent company, SAIC, is looking to downside its operations at the Birmingham site.
Talks are reportedly underway with the workforce at the SAIC Motor UK Technical Centre, whose main function is designing and engineering new models for MG and Roewe, with around 140 full-time positions at risk.
The news comes despite a steep rise in UK sales for MG and an ever-expanding dealer network. A statement from a SAIC Motor UK spokesman said: “SMTC UK is conducting an operational review at its Birmingham base. SMTC UK is currently consulting with its staff to find the most appropriate solution and further updates will be issued in due course.”
According to a member of staff who contacted the Birmingham Mail, the workforce has been told 140 jobs would be lost, following a cull of 80 contract workers in March. The remaining affected staff are reportedly engaged in a 45-day consultation period.
Longbridge has, of course, undergone a series of troubled times. In April 2005 the Phoenix Consortium put the MG-Rover group into administration, leaving more than 6000 workers without jobs. The remaining assets were bought by NAC (Nanjing Automotive Corporation) three months later, with NAC subsequently acquired by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC). To keep the MG brand alive, SAIC’s relaunch plan featured UK design and engineering, as well as assembly of the MG6. However, in 2016 manufacturing stopped and output was shifted to China.
MG Motor has made the UK design and engineering of its cars part of its marketing message in the UK, China and India. Yet the changes could leave Longbridge, excluding the Sales Centre, with fewer than 100 staff – a far cry from its days as a hub for British car manufacturing.