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Morris Garages (MG), a British automaker, now owned by the Chinese-state owned automotive company SAIC, formerly (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) has announced its plans to launch their first product in India.
The first product, as confirmed by Rajeev Chaba, President and MD, MG Motor India to DriveSpark, will be a C-Segment SUV in the second quarter of 2019, followed by an all-electric SUV in 2020.
The new SUV will come with dimensions larger than the current generation Hyundai Tucson and the Honda CR-V. This SUV will be offered in both petrol and diesel engine options. For now, these are the only details shared by the company regarding their first product.
The second product however, is confirmed to be an all-electric SUV. Michael Yang, Executive Director of International Business, SAIC, said that MG Motor will launch a globally competitive pure-electric SUV in India. He also said, the upcoming electric SUV will be a breakthrough chapter in the electric vehicle space in India.
For MG Motor, India is a key global market. The company plans to establish themselves in the market first, before looking at volume sales. The Chinese-backed brand is well aware of the challenges faced by many global car brands in India. The Indian market has been a tough market to crack for many auto MNCs.
MG Motor India Production Plans
MG Motor has already taken over the Halol (Gujarat) plant from General Motors in 2017 for their India operations. The company has also invested half a billion dollars towards setting up stage 1 of its production plant in the country.
Apart from the new production plant, MG Motor is also setting up a high-quality vendor base in the form of a global park to ensure the process of manufacturing is sped up. The new vendor base will be set-up using trusted suppliers from China, with a goal of at least 75 per cent localised production.
The Halol plant's current production capacity is 80,000 units annually, which can further be increased to 2,00,000 units by utilising existing free space. The company is also expected to bring in their subsidiary Huayu to India, who will manufacture most of the required components.
MG Motor also announced that all their products will be designed and engineered in UK and China, along with the support of Indian engineers. The products will then be heavily localised at the company's Halol plant, while conforming to global quality standards. Also, before the launch of a new product, Indian engineers will validate and customise the cars to suit Indian roads and driving conditions.
MG Motor India Dealership & Pre-Launch Plans
MG Motor is readying the introduction of 45 dealerships in the country with 100 touch points across India. They recently conducted dealer roadshows across the country to hand-pick the ‘best' dealership names to guarantee the best sales and service experience.
Along with the dealerships, a 24-hour helpline with a response time target of under 10 minutes, will be set up. The company is also working on providing the best end-to-end solutions for the Indian market, with a strong foundation in terms of production, logistics, dealerships and service among others.
MG Motor sees huge potential for growth in the Indian market. With the availability of a large portfolio from their domestic market, the company looks to offer a mix-and-match from their expansive kitty that is wholly dependant on Indian taste buds.
Rajeev Chaba, President & MD of MG Motor India said that the company is ramping up their pre-launch activities. MG Motor will begin with product roadshows in India from November this year. It will be followed by various brand-awareness initiatives to get closer to their prospective customers.
MG Motor History
Morris Garages (MG), is a British automotive marque registered by the now defunct MG Car Company Limited. In 2005, SAIC, a Chinese automaker formerly named Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation acquired the licenses to the Rover 25 and Rover 75 models from the insolvency assets of MG Rover Group.
BMW sold the rights to the Rover name to Ford to protect the Land Rover brand in 2006. As part of Ford's agreement to sell their Jaguar and Land Rover operations to Tata Motors in 2008, the rights to use the Rover brand name was included in the deal. Thus, SAIC now produces Rover under the Roewe nameplate in China.
In 2017, SAIC sold over 7 million vehicles out of which 1.7 million units were through global sales. SAIC is presently the largest automobile conglomerate in China. It currently has five divisions:
- SAIC Motor Passenger Vehicle (SMPV)
- SAIC Motor Commercial Vehicle (SMCV)
- SAIC-GM joint venture (Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac)
- SAIC-VW joint venture (Volkswagen and Skoda)
- SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture (Wuling & Baojun)
The joint ventures give the right to SAIC, to manufacture and sell the brands in mainland China.
Under the SMPV division, they sell the Roewe marque for China and MG marque for the global markets (including India).
Thoughts On MG Motors In India
MG Motor is building a strong foundation for its entry into the Indian market. The company is aggressively accelerating towards providing a premium customer experience through end-to-end solutions by 2019.
DriveSpark reviewed the MG and Roewe cars in China for the full experience. Self admittedly, the brand says that the four new trends that drove them to the Indian market are Electrification, Sharing, Intelligence and Connectivity, and Globalisation.
This was the very experience that we took away from the visit. Their offerings are smart, well-researched, well-built and undoubtedly stylish. We are not only convinced that the product is premium, but is capable of taking on the tough competition in India.
The only question that remains is the element of pricing. One can only hope that the company considers a pricing model that offers premium at a not-so-premium price point. For inspiration, perhaps look at the Chinese OnePlus?
Who would have thought that iPhone quality and features would be available at a fraction of the price in 2018? Neither did we. Stay tuned to DriveSpark for more updates on the official launch!
SAIC has a lot of heritage and historical importance. Here are some interesting facts about the brand.
- One out of every four cars sold in China belongs to SAIC
- SAIC has a collaboration with Alibaba towards connected car technologies
- In 1957, the MG EX181 held the land speed record with a top speed of 400km/h
- The 1955 MG MGA is among the most sort after vintage cars in India
- The Queen of England also owns a car from MG Motors