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Longbridge set to reopen with new Chinese owner

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The defunct Longbridge car plant, shut for almost two years after the demise of Rover, is to restart production of MG models under the auspices of Chinese owner Nanjing Automobile, which has made a big UK investment in the plant, within the next few months.

A spokesperson for Nanjing said that its purpose was to “revive, maintain and develop” the MG brand at the plant and to resuscitate the local economy in the process.

Nanjing bought the plant and other Rover assets for £53m in 2005 as part of a significant UK investment in the area.

Almost 6,000 Rover workers lost their jobs when the firm went into administration two years ago and the factory has been inactive since then. The plan now is for Nanjing to start test production of the MG-TF sports car, and to begin full-scale manufacturing in April.

By this time around 250 people will be employed at the plant, although the plan is to step up production to enhance the UK investment in the plant and for 3,000 cars to be made in the first full year.

This is projected to rise to 12,000 vehicles by 2009 and eventually a full capacity of 15,000 cars a year as the capacity of Nanjing’s UK investment increases. The TF model is expected to go on sale in the UK in July, while hard-top versions will be available next year.

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