Up to 230 engineering and design jobs at MG Motor are in jeopardy as the Chinese car company plans to radically reduce its technical centre in Birmingham, on the site of the former Longbridge factory.

Plan news leaked after a consultation with the workforce on Friday, with one source suggesting that 140 full-time jobs and 90 contractor jobs are at risk from a total workforce of about 300, whose primary function is the design and engineering of new models for MG.

MG Motor, which is owned by SAIC, did not want to comment on the figures, but issued a statement confirming that discussions were taking place with SAIC Motor UK Technical Centre (SMTC) employees.

“SMTC is conducting an operational review at its Birmingham base,” he said, “and is currently consulting with its staff to find the most appropriate solution and new updates will be issued in due course.

The news comes only 24 hours after the UK unveiled the ZS EV, which it plans to launch at the London Motor Show next week on 16 May.

The ZS EV is a key model in MG$0027s plan to significantly increase sales in the UK by the end of 2020, making cuts in its technical centre more difficult for the workforce.

Sales in the UK have risen sharply and doubled last year to 9,049 units from 4,440 in 2017. While sales in China also improved considerably last year, reaching 134,000 against 80,000 in 2017.

A new sales drive is being built around an expanding network of UK distributors that currently has 91 sites, but is expected to grow to 120 by the end of 2020.

MG Motor has made the design and engineering of its cars in the UK part of its marketing message and in the automobile showrooms in the Chinese domestic market has presented Union Jack$0027s graphics and brand on its stands.

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