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MG focuses on SUVs, dealers for sales success

Only way is up: In the first seven months of 2018, MG Motor Australia’s sales volume has increased by 236.6 per cent year on year, partly thanks to the ZS small SUV that has sold 789 units in its first full year on sale.

ZS, GS and 21-strong dealer network underpin MG Motor Australia’s growth

17 Aug 2018

MG MOTOR Australia will continue to push its two SUV models and expand its dealer network, a strategy that has increased its sales volume by 236.6 per cent year-to-date to 1252 units.
Speaking to GoAuto this week at the national media launch of the facelifted MG3 light hatchback in Sydney, MG Motor Australia sales and network director Scott McIntyre explained that sustainable sales growth will rely on a strong network of dealers, helping the brand to become a top-10 best seller in the future.
“Continued growth, it really depends on how we establish the (dealer) network, so there’s a little bit of a push and a pull,” he said.
“We would hope to see, as we expand the network in a strategic way and get those right partners, that natural growth, but then we want to see those dealers improve, as well.
“We understand that there’s a top-10 aspiration over the years to come, but it’s about establishing that foundation, and we’ve got to have the (dealer) network to establish that. So, initial steps, then we’ll go from there.”
MG Motor Australia this week expanded its network to 21 dealers, with three new showrooms opening including its first one in South Australia and two more locations in Victoria.
Mr McIntyre added that the MG Motor Australia’s seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty with seven years of roadside assistance, first offered on its two SUV models last year, will play a key role in this growth, having just been also introduced on the facelifted MG3.
“That’s our vision and our way forward with introducing new product into the market,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure that we look after our customers. They easily understand those hygiene factors are taken care of.”
When questioned if plans are still afoot to introduce an entry-level Core grade in the ZS small SUV, MG Motor Australia product planning manager Pavel Meck revealed that the model has already exceeded sales expectations, so expanding its range is now unlikely in the short term.
“At the moment, the vehicle’s actually been very successful, in terms of the volume that it is doing,” he said. “It’s been surprising to us how well-received that vehicle was.
“To that point, do we see the need to introduce it (the Core grade) immediately? With the current sales rate and everything else, I think the introduction of that grade has to be strategic.”
Having launched in late-November, 789 examples of the ZS have been sold this year to the end of July. As such, it currently outpaces the established Ford EcoSport (679) and Nissan Juke (416) in its segment.
MG Motor Australia marketing and communications director Danny Lenartic added that the ZS is feature-packed with sharp driveaway pricing and a long warranty to disrupt the status quo.
“It’s positioned aggressively, and the market’s accepting it,” he said. “We’ve just got to make sure that what we deliver adds value in spades to the customer.”
“We’re starting to build a brand across several segments that talks to a strong, large customer base. The two-car strategy, if you like, is working for us, and we’ll continue with that.”
A model-year update featuring advanced driver-assist systems, including autonomous emergency braking (AEB), remains on the cards for the ZS “sooner rather than later”, according to Mr Meck.
“With regards to whether it will come this year or next, it’s still under discussion,” he said. “I do hope to see some additional specification in the car, but everyone does.”
However, the future of the MG6 Plus small liftback is less clear, with its facelifted model outed in November yet to be confirmed for a local launch, but Mr Meck was hopeful that it will continue, despite its sales declining 22.0 per cent year-to-date, to 227 units.
“There is a future for the segment, definitely,” he said. “In terms of the vehicle available overseas, we are studying the suitability of that car for the Australian climate.
“Would we like to see that come over? Sure. But, again, it has to be the right car, and it has to be specced and positioned properly.
“We do have a line-up that speaks to quite a large majority of new customers to our brand, at the moment. As we continue to evolve and grow, it’s certainly something we’ll be looking at, (but) our focus is really on the two cars that we have.”
The second model in MG Motor Australia's push for relevance is the GS mid-size SUV, which was launched in March last year and has increased volume in 2018, up 215.4 per cent year-to-date to 164 units.
As previously reported, the GS will soon enter its second generation, arriving in Australia in the next 12 to 18 months. Its full reveal will take place in Chinese-market HS form at the Chengdu motor show next month.
Sales of the MG3 have improved this year, with 72 examples sold to the end of July – a 148.3 per cent over the 29 deliveries made during the same period in 2017. The facelifted model’s manual gearbox-replacing automatic transmission should help further increase this volume.

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