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MG designer plots all-electric ‘MGB’

Oh baby: The Chinese-designed MG E-motion will be just the first new-generation sporty car from the former British brand if its designer gets his way.

Small MG roadster on the cards at MG – but with electric drivetrain

21 Apr 2017


THE Chinese designer who spawned MG’s first new-age sportscar, the all-electric E-motion 2+2 coupe that was unveiled in concept form today at the Shanghai motor show, also has his sights set on reinventing the classic MGB roadster, this time with electric motivation.

Shao Jingfeng, the passenger car design director for MG’s parent company SAIC Motor in Shanghai, said it was his dream to remake an MG sportscar in the vein of the MG roadsters of yore but with the latest design and technology.

While he cautioned that such a project did not yet have board approval, he said he believed there was a need for a small EV roadster “for yourself”.

“We need to try,” he said.

Mr Jingfeng said cars such as the Mazda MX-5 and Toyota 86 had attracted a substantial audience, and he believed MG could do the same with its mix of almost a century of tradition and new-found design and engineering skills.

He said the small roadster he imagined would be slightly bigger than the MX-5 – “but not too big” – with a folding soft-top.

It would sit below the production version of the E-motion coupe that also would be exclusively electric.

Mr Jingfeng said there were no plans for a soft-top version of the E-motion, as the target audience in its biggest market – China – favoured hardtops.

He said he was often asked why it had taken so long for MG to reintroduce a sporty car into its line-up.

“We have the confidence now,” he said, going on to compare Chinese automotive design with the new-found dress style of women in Shanghai.

Mr Jingfeng said Chinese automotive consumers had also evolved.

“Chinese buyers previously wanted a symbol for their family, like a large sedan of SUV,” he said. “Now they want a symbol for themselves.” Mr Jingfeng said the E-motion was designed for more affluent buyers, while his envisioned small sportscar would appeal to a younger clientele of purists.

In designing the E-motion concept at SAIC’s Shanghai design centre, the team led by Mr Jingfeng drew part of their inspiration for the rear fender design from the classic MGA roadster.

Although rusted-on MG fans would love MG to return to its four-cylinder, petrol-engine roots for any reinvented small roadster, SAIC sees its future in electric powertrains in China.

MG has developed a modular EV platform to underpin a variety of vehicles for its upcoming range of electric passenger cars, including the production version of the E-motion and upcoming all-electric versions of the Roewe RX5 SUV and I6 sedan.

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