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MG opens NZ dealer network

It’s back: MG has returned to New Zealand with the MG6 range made near Shanghai.

New Zealand MG sales launched with Chinese-made MG6 hatch and sedan

18 Jan 2013

BORN-AGAIN British marque MG has returned to showrooms in New Zealand via a three dealer network, kicking off sales with the Chinese-made MG6 sedan and hatch.

Now owned by China’s biggest motor company, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), 80-year-old MG is set to expand its NZ offerings with the smaller MG3 light hatchback later in the year.

Dealerships in Christchurch, Wellington and Rotorua opened for MG business in December, with the first cars sold this month.

MG is being handled in NZ by British Motor Distributors (BMD), a branch of John Fairhall’s Archibald Motor Group that sells a wide range of European luxury cars such as Audi, Porsche, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo in NZ.

BMD operations manager Kerry Cheyne told GoAuto that a fourth dealership would be opened soon, adding: “The future is bright.”

The company imported eight MG6 cars about a year ago as part of its warm-up for NZ distribution, showing them off to potential dealers and journalists.

SAIC Motor has plans to expand MG to Australia where independent importer Inchcape has been mentioned as a possible contender for the MG rights alongside its existing Subaru business.

Another importer – WMC Group – is just about to launch another of SAIC’s automotive brands, LDV Vans (formerly Maxus), in Australia, where they will take on the likes of Hyundai’s iLoad and Toyota’s HiAce.

While MG cars are built in China at SAIC’s Lingang factory southeast of Shanghai, they continue to be designed and engineered at MG’s traditional Birmingham base in Britain where the MG6 is not only sold but raced in the British touring car championship by Triple Eight Racing – the same outfit that fields V8 Supercars for Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup in Australia.

Apart from China, MG cars are already sold in a wide number of countries across several regions, including the UK, Middle East, South America, Latin America, Korea and Africa.

Because the MG6 is built in right-hand drive for the UK and qualifies for Europe’s stringent safety and emissions standards, it is ideal for distribution for other right-hand-drive markets such as South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

In New Zealand, the MG6 is priced from $NZ29,990 ($A23,810) plus on-roads, in two body styles – Magnette sedan and five-door GT hatch – and three specifications – S, SE and TSE.

All are currently powered by a 118kW 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine that can propel the Holden Cruze-sized car from zero to 100km/h in about 8.5 seconds.

A new 1.9-litre diesel engine is said to be in the pipeline for the UK, and possibly NZ.

As GoAuto reported in December, MG cars are set to be built in Thailand from 2014 under a joint venture deal with that country’s CP Group, likely meaning all MGs will be shipped to Australia and NZ from the southeast Asian country, with which Australia has a free trade agreement.

The expansion will relieve pressure on SAIC’s production facilities in China, where it has just sold a record 4.49 million cars in 2012 – up 12 per cent over 2011.

SAIC has joint ventures with the two biggest foreign brands in China, General Motors and Volkswagen, but its own MG and Roewe (Rover) brands accounted for 200,000 sales, up 23 per cent year on year.

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