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MG targets 20,000 Australian sales by 2025

Rule of 3: The MG GS SUV (below) will arrive next year but MG Motor is focusing on the MG6 and MG3 (left) for now.

New SUV and major marketing push to drive MG growth in Australia

31 Oct 2016

NEWLY relaunched MG Motor has boldly targeted up to three per cent market share in Australia, translating to more than 20,000 sales within a decade, backed by a major marketing push and an expanded range that includes the GS SUV from next year.

Following a false dawn in 2013 under independent distributor Longwell Motor, MG parent company Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) has opened a factory-backed headquarters in Woolloomooloo, Sydney, with a local leadership team employed to ensure the British brand does not fail again.

Speaking with GoAuto at a media event in Sydney last week, SAIC Motor public relations director Yang Honghai said that while MG would start small in Australia, bigger things were to come.

“We’re young and we’re still starting here and I don’t want to put too much pressure on this market because we need to understand the market and understand the consumer first,” he said.

“We will try to grow MG here, to bring back MG here and to … step by step develop the MG brand and introduce more products into the market and with this kind of basis then you know we can say we’re one of the more major players in this market.

“I think you know you can get two-to-three per cent market share in coming five-to-10 years.”

Based on last year’s 1.1 million total sales as a guide, SAIC’s share forecast would position the MG brand between Audi (23,088 sales, two per cent share) and Kia (33,736, 2.9 per cent).

Beyond MG’s current two-model range, the MG3 light car and MG6 Plus small-medium liftback, the next major model launch will be the GS mid-size SUV that will line up in the high-volume segment against the Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4 and various other competitors.

“GS we know is a good SUV, it is a really good (match) to this market and the people here they are driving SUV every day, so we want to bring fantastic products here and to give more good choice for the people here,” Mr Honghai said.

“About the actual timing for the GS, later maybe by the end of this year around that time we will give the actual detail and actual data for the GS.”

According to overseas specification, the GS uses a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 125kW of power and 250Nm of torque, teamed with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic found in the current MG6 Plus.

SAIC Motor Australia marketing and communications senior manager Danny Lenartic refused to comment specifically about the GS or future sales targets.

However, he insisted that mistakes made in the 2013 relaunch of the MG brand in Australia would not occur again, citing a substantial marketing investment to drive the brand’s presence this time around.

“If you look at the communication strategy that was done previously, it was probably one that was not as thorough as this one will be,” Mr Lenartic said.

“So there will be significant investment to put it simply, because we need to compete in the market, and we know that if we are modest then we will just become white noise, and to launch a brand in this country with the impact that we want to have requires a significant investment.”

Asked whether Shanghai-based parent SAIC Motor Corporation was assisting with funding the campaign, he replied: “They (SAIC) are ranked 49th I think at the moment in Fortune 500 (wealthiest global companies), you don’t get there without making some really good decisions.”“I’m always daily on the phone to China and so we’re absolutely being helped by that business. And leaning on SAIC globally and then leaning on expertise internally I think will ensure success.”

However, he admitted that the brand will not have the marketing budget of Holden or Toyota, for example.

“I don’t want to be ‘Captain Spend’ – it’s a test-learn-evolve methodology. We have the power of digital to track and we have the power of insights and data and big data now at our fingertips … and we’ll be tapping into all of those to make sure we do it right,” he said.

Mr Lenartic – who previously worked with Hyundai marketing strategies – said that a “considered and planned” advertising campaign would roll out in the coming weeks.

Beyond marketing campaigns, however, SAIC Motor Australia business development senior manager Andrew Huenerbein said he understood that the company needed to improve customer confidence in the MG brand locally.

A number of MG6 vehicles from the previous relaunch were “wholesaled”, according to Mr Huenerbein, and the company will support these vehicles with a three-year warranty. Around 100 new or demonstrator, two-to-three-year-old MG6 models remained in a variety of dealerships’ stock at the time of writing.

New MG3 and MG6 Plus vehicles, however, receive a six-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty.

“We want to make sure the customers are understanding that they don’t have any issues when it comes to their car and what they buy and they have complete confidence in it, and we’re prepared to back it for six years,” he said.

Mr Huenerbein – who has previously worked with Ateco Automotive, Peugeot and Citroen – added that despite a dealer network consisting of just 10 outlets by the end of the year, he did not believe this would adversely affect the brand.

“(MG3) we’re still developing targets for, we know that it will start off modestly and then grow as the popularity grows, and it’s going to be something that’s going to be dynamic in its growth I think because of its customisation ability with different roof (colours) etcetera,” he said.

“We’re looking with MG6 to really take off throughout the next few months and then going through into next year, and we’re wanting to sell as many as we possibly can (but) we’re actually currently negotiating with orders and volume at this point in time so I can’t put together an exact (sales forecast).”

The aim, according to Mr Huenerbein, is to have dealerships “concentrating on the whole of the east coast” to begin with.

“We have dealer interest from Queensland right through to Victoria and Tasmania, so the interest has been fantastic and we’re really concentrating on making the right choices there because it’s very, very important to us,” he said.

He said the company was “in the final stages of negotiations” with several dealerships but declined to list any specifically due to “commercial confidence”.

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