Made in the UK China

MG. As a Dutchman I’m not sure how you Brits think about the matter, but to me it must be the most English car brand ever. Except, well, it doesn’t exist anymore.

I guess I should have said it’s now owned by the Chinese and that it’s still run from the UK and whatnot, but we all know that’s rubbish. UK sold MG’s are primarily produced in China and then shipped to the UK in big crates where a couple of dudes bolt them together. It’s a bit like a Chinese pensioned chap buying an AC kit car, putting it together in his shed in suburban Shanghai and calling it Chinese. MG is Chinese now and, per definition then, not English anymore. Sad but true.

SAIC, the company that now plays mummy to the MG brand, bought it and its assets in 2005, for just £53 million. That’s peanuts, but probably still more than what it was worth. I don’t per se dislike what the company is currently doing though. The MG6 isn’t looking excessively bad – I could have easily taken it for a budget American GM product. But it clearly isn’t half enough, at least not in the UK. While sales volumes in China aren’t absolutely disastrous – they sold well over 4,000 of the model in January of 2011, after which sales plummeted to about 2,000 in December – British motorists simply aren’t buying it. Well, except rental company Avis, which placed an order for 100 units last December, making it the MG6’s best selling month in the UK ever.

In any case then, the Chinese aren’t exactly bringing the fine and famed British heritage back to the brand. But they sure have been grubbing around in it. At the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition this week, the Icon concept car was presented. It looks quite a bit better than some of the turds on wheels, presented during that same event, that look like they’re budget products from the Eighties.

MG say the Icon is based on the MGB GT. I’m sure many people will consider that a very deep insult, but to be quite frank, I think it actually looks good. Sexy bum!

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