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MG pledge to bounce back after recall

Iconic brand: MG returned to Australia in 2013 with the MG6 that was recently recalled due to a missing centre child restraint anchor point.

Australian distributor says MG is here for the long term, despite ADR issues

7 Aug 2014

THE Australian distributor of MG cars, Longwell Motor, says it still has a bright future here, despite a child restraint anchorage point fault that has forced it to halt sales of its sole offering, the MG6 small car, since late July.

More than 400 of the Chinese-built vehicles in Longwell stock are believed to have been placed on hold around Australia as the company awaits parts to fix the anchorage points that do not comply with Australian Design Rules.

Speaking exclusively with GoAuto, Longwell Motor dealer network manager Matthew Brown said the parts required to fix the anchor points were due in Australia soon, and once the repairs were made, sales would resume.

“It’s been fixed, ADR has complied with it and we’re waiting on the parts to refit – they’ll be done by the end of September,” Mr Brown said.

GoAuto understands that while the anchor point fix in the hatch is relatively straight forward, the MG6 sedan requires more work, including the replacement of the parcel tray.

A Longwell safety recall notice published on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recalls website indicates 12 cars already in customer hands are affected by the problem.

“Once we got told we were not allowed to sell cars, we stopped,” Mr Brown said.

 center imageLeft: Longwell Motor dealer network manager Matthew Brown.

“We have a list of customers names and numbers for when we are ready to let them know. We didn’t want to take deposits (on fresh sales), as by law we were not allowed to sell them.” The former British brand, which is now owned by Chinese automotive giant Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), has just one dealership in operation in Australia, on Parramatta Road, Petersham, in Sydney's west.

A tally of cars in the two showrooms and two outside yards on the Petersham site came to 79 – all MG6s.

GoAuto understands at least another 200 MGs are in Brisbane and Melbourne, with 150 more sitting on a wharf in Sydney.

While all MG6s are grounded until fitted with the required anchor point, Mr Brown said plenty of work was to be done in setting up the dealer management system (DMS).

“We’ve got bigger things we need to worry about like the back-end side,” he said. “We’ve got DMS systems being built and all those little things that the public doesn’t see.

“We know it takes time. We’re not in a rush, we’re not here and gone tomorrow, we’re here for the long term.” Mr Brown hinted that more dealerships would open around Australia soon, but he remained coy about potential locations as well as the number of sites and timing.

“The dealer network is looking strong,” Mr Brown said. “There are others signed and ready to go. We’ve had very good interest as you would for MG – it’s been around a long time.

“The network is going to be great once we’re ready to go – they’re just as excited as us. We’re on target for what we want.” GoAuto understands the Sydney dealership will be joined by outlets in Melbourne and Brisbane, but timing is unclear.

The MG6 led the brand’s return to Australia in April 2013 and it remains the only model in the line-up. When it goes back on sale it will be available in hatch or sedan body-style in three specifications, kicking off with the base S variant for $25,651 driveaway and topping out with the TSE for $30,801 driveaway.

The sedan, or Magnette range, has the same pricing as the hatch, or as it is known in MG-speak, the GT. All variants are powered by a 1.8-litre turbo-charged petrol engine driving the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox.

Coming this later year is the MG3 light hatch which will take on the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Kia Rio. Mr Brown said it would be available with a number of customisation options.

“The MG3’s a great looking car,” he said. “Different colours, different skins on the roof, you’ll be able to change the wing mirrors. It’s going to be priced very well – it should be about $17,000-$18,000 for the top-of-the range car.” The MG3 will be followed by a number of new models, including a more traditional small hatch to compete with the Toyota Corolla, as well as an all-important crossover – likely based on the CS concept from last year's Shanghai motor show – and a mooted MG convertible that the company is hoping will re-connect the brand with its roots.

The MG3 had been expected to arrive in Australia this year, but that timing now seems unlikely, with no sight of a production version of the compact SUV or convertible.

Mr Brown said the addition of new models will put the Chinese car-maker in a better position to compete with the mainstream brands in Australia.

“After the MG3, there’s SUV, the MG5, and the convertible, but that’s in prototype-form still – I’m excited about all those cars,” he said.

“And we’ll start playing with the big guys. Once all the cars get here we’ll have the whole line up – and that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

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