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China’s SAIC looks at making MG in Thailand

Thai made: Cars like the MG6 may be built in Thailand in the future.

Thai company confirms proposal for MG joint-venture with Chinese motor giant

8 May 2012

MG CARS sold in Australia might be sourced from Thailand if a proposed joint venture between MG’s Chinese owner, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), and a Thai industrial conglomerate gets the go-ahead.

The Bangkok Post quotes the vice-chairman of Thai-based Charoen Pokphand Group, Thanakorn Seriburi, as saying his company and SAIC are working on a feasibility study for a joint-venture factory to make at least 50,000 cars a year in Thailand.

The factory would build right-hand-drive cars for Thailand and other RHD markets in the region, including Australia and New Zealand.

These would most likely be SAIC’s MG and Roewe brands – the British-designed car and SUV lines that SAIC has owned since it bought the bankrupt UK MG Rover operation in 2006.

Mr Seriburi said the study should be completed by the fourth quarter of this year.

CP Group – a sprawling company that makes products as diverse as agricultural machinery and pet food – already has a joint venture with SAIC, making more than a million motorcycles a year in China under the Dayang brand.

Those motorcycles might also be in contention for Thai production, according to The Bangkok Post.The SAIC factory proposal reportedly was raised by SAIC executives with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra during her official visit to China last month.

 center imageFrom top: MG Icon, MG5 and MG3.

Chinese representatives were in Bangkok this week to discuss investment incentives with the Board of Investment.

As GoAuto has reported, SAIC is committed to selling MG cars in Australia, and is in the throes of signing up an independent distributor.

In New Zealand, 10 demonstrator MGs were imported by British Motor Distributors as a prelude to MG sales in that country.

MG’s range currently consists of three vehicles – the MG6 mid-size sedan and liftback, the MG3 light hatchback, and, since last month’s Beijing motor show, the MG5 small car.

At Beijing, SAIC showed an MG mini SUV concept, the Icon, which the company’s British-based design director, Anthony Williams-Kenny, says is just one of the range of SUVs under consideration at MG.

A right-hand-drive MG6 is already on sale in Britain, where it is assembled in Birmingham from CKD (completely knocked down) kits made in China.

Like the other MG vehicles, the MG6 sits on a new platform engineered in Britain for the Roewe range, not the old hand-me-down Rover architectures originally acquired by SAIC for its first-generation Roewe vehicles that were re-badged Rover 25, 45 and 75 models.

A Thai factory would relieve pressure on SAIC’s plants in China, where SAIC – China’s biggest motor manufacturer in partnership with General Motors and Volkswagen – is under pressure to meet local demand.

Thai-built cars would also have the price advantage of Australia’s free-trade agreement with Thailand, along with public acceptance of Thai build quality.

Toyota, Honda, Holden, Ford, Mazda, Nissan, Isuzu and Mitsubishi already import vehicles from Thailand, which is rivaling South Korea as the second-biggest source of vehicles for Australia behind Japan.

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