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Thai-built MG6 debuts in Bangkok

Hit for 6: Production of the MG6 will commence at the new facility in Rayong, Thailand in June this year.

Thai MG production from June this year, Australian deliveries to follow

MG logo26 Mar 2014

By TIM NICHOLSON

AUSTRALIAN market MG6s are expected to be sourced from Thailand rather than China by the end of this year, with parent company SAIC to commence small-car production in the South East Asian nation from June.

The formerly British car-maker staged the MG6’s Thai debut at the Bangkok motor show this week, showing off the vehicle that it will produce at a new plant in Rayong to herald a push into ASEAN markets.

While it did not confirm when the car would go on sale there, deliveries should commence shortly after production starts in June this year.

It is unclear exactly when the Thai-built models will arrive in MG’s current only Australian dealership in Petersham, western Sydney, or whether they will carry any changes over the existing Chinese-built MG6s that went on sale last year.

GoAuto reported in December 2012 that MG would source its Australian-spec models from Thailand after MG’s parent company SAIC signed a joint-venture agreement with Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group) to produce cars there.

At the time of the announcement, MG said it would produce 50,000 vehicles a year at the plant before eventually ramping up to an annual output of 200,000 units.

For the time being, MG has only confirmed production of the MG6 at the Rayong plant and it remains unclear whether the company will expand production to its MG3 light hatch.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that MG may find it tough making inroads in the Thai market, with sales of Chinese-owned cars making up a tiny one per cent of the 1.3 million vehicles sold in the country last year.

This compares to Japanese-branded models that made up 89 per cent of the market, while eight per cent of the market is made up of US-branded cars.

Global MG sales hit 230,000 units in 2013, while its parent company recorded growth of 13.7 per cent over its 2012 result with sales of 5.1 million units.

MG said in a statement that it expected global sales to increase in 2014 with the addition of the new production facility in South East Asia’s manufacturing hub.

SAIC Motor-CP Co. Ltd president Wu Huan said the Thai debut of the MG6 at the Bangkok show was a part of the company’s plans to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the MG brand.

“The public debut of the MG6 in Thailand is the opportunity for the Thai market to see the new MG6 before it arrives on Thai roads,” he said. “All nine cars on display were built locally at the production facility in Rayong province.” MG’s local distributor Australia Longwell Motor (ALM) does not report its sales to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), but reports have suggested that the company sold fewer than 50 cars in its first year of trading.

Just one MG model is currently available in Australia – the MG6 – in three specifications ranging from the Standard priced from $22,990 excluding on-road costs to the Luxury from $27,990.

Each variant is available with a 118kW/215Nm 1.8-litre turbo-petrol engine matched exclusively with a five-speed manual gearbox.

Last year, the MG6 achieved a four-star ANCAP crash safety rating after losing points in the frontal offset test where its ability to protect the driver and front passenger from serious leg injury was just marginal.

Most of its rivals, including the Holden Cruze, Nissan Pulsar and Toyota Corolla carry five-star ratings.

The MG3 light car is expected to give the reborn brand a boost when it arrives in Australia at some stage this year, while a sub-compact SUV based on the CS concept from last year’s Shanghai motor show should surface in 2015.

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