China’s Nanjing Automobile Group, which took control of Britain’s collapsed MG Rover last year, plans to set up a factory in Oklahoma to build MG-brand cars, Automotive News said, in what could become the first Chinese attempt to assemble cars in the United States.
Nanjing Automobile is planning three production sites for its reborn MG cars — a shuttered factory in Longbridge, England, a Nanjing plant and the Ardmore, Oklahoma site, the industry paper reported on Wednesday, citing a news release from the unlisted Chinese auto maker.
Nanjing Automobile in China said it had no statement.
Nanjing Automobile is one of several Chinese car makers, including Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. and Chery Automotive Co., hoping to crack the global car market amid a slowdown in demand at home.
It has a small joint venture in China with Italy’s Fiat, but has struggled to make headway against bigger rivals that tied up with top brands General Motors Corp. and Volkswagen AG.
Construction of Nanjing’s Oklahoma plant would begin early next year, with production starting by late 2008, the paper said.
Nanjing plans an official announcement later on Wednesday in Oklahoma City, site of MG’s global headquarters for sales, marketing and distribution outside Asia, the paper said.
About 60 per cent of the 12,000 to 16,000 TF coupes to be built annually in Oklahoma is aimed at North America, and the rest for Europe. The Longbridge plant will build the TF roadster and the Nanjing site would assemble three sedans.
MG cars will likely go on sale in the United States in May or June of 2008, Automotive News cited MG as saying. That would mark the first resurrection in the United States of the famed British sports car marque since 1980.
Nanjing said capital investment in the United States would be more than $2 billion, to be funded by state and local governments in Oklahoma, the state’s development agency and private investors, according to Automotive News. It did not specify how the funds would be allocated.
The auto maker would create 550 jobs in Oklahoma, which was hit by the closure in February of a GM assembly plant, the paper said.
Nanjing Automobile, one of China’s oldest auto makers, surprised the motoring world when it outbid top Chinese car maker Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. to buy MG Rover out of bankruptcy for £ 53 million in mid-2005.
Earlier this year, it took a 33-year lease on the former MG Rover plant at Longbridge in central England and said it still hoped to revive production at the site.