MG's New Chinese Owners Restart Production

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) – MG Rover's new Chinese owners restarted production at the car maker's factory in Birmingham on Tuesday, raising the Chinese flag alongside the MG signal and the Union Jack.

Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corp., which bought the bankrupt MG Rover Group in 2005, said the plant's re-commissioned production line will initially build 15,000 cars a year, the MG TF sports car and other brand-new models, company officials said.

''We are the inheritors of this brand and we will continue to push forward our internationalization strategy and continue to write new chapters for MG,'' Nanjing Auto Chief Executive Yu Jianwei said at a reopening ceremony.

Three preproduction TF sports cars were driven through a shower of balloons and confetti at the ceremony, which featured a cavalcade of MG cars.

Almost 6,000 workers lost their jobs when MG Rover went out of business, dealing a huge blow to Britain's car industry and the economy in England's West Midlands.

The plant currently employs 130 workers, a number Nanjing Auto plans to increase to 250 by the year's end if sales go well, Yu said.

The TF sports car should go on sale in September or October, he said.

Wei said NAC was working on a number of new MG models, including a hardtop TF, which will be produced at the Longbridge site.

''We want to do everything we can to develop the MG brand and make sure there will be good cars so there will be more people buying good cars and more employment opportunities,'' he said.

Most of the production on the TF model will be carried out at Longbridge, with some parts manufactured in China and Europe, he said, adding a research center will also be established at the Longbridge site.

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