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Old 05-31-2007, 11:50 AM   #18
AGR
 
Join Date: May 2007
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From Automtive News

Nanjing reopens Longbridge amid overblown rhetoric and vague promises
Automotive News Europe Correspondent Tony Lewin files special report from the opening ceremony

Tony Lewin
Automotive News Europe
May 30, 2007 - 6:13 am




Two years after it closed following the collapse of MG Rover, the historic Longbridge car-assembly plant in Birmingham, England formally reopened May 29 under its new owners, Nanjing Automobile of China.

There was no doubt that it was an intensely symbolic moment - but no one could be precisely sure what it symbolized.

Banners were draped all round the Longbridge works, which in its heyday was the hub of the UK automotive industry as well as one of the biggest car plants in the world. The banners proclaimed "MG - a new journey," yet the destination and even the distance of that journey are still shrouded in uncertainty.

Even the cavalcade of 20 classic MG sport cars and the release of thousands of balloons along with cannons spraying fountains of confetti had a hollow ring to them. Behind the few frontline buildings hastily spruced up by Nanjing Automobile lay the vast industrial wasteland that once built more than 360,000 cars a year. Much of Longbridge has now been sold off to provide space for fitness centers, a bowling alley, cinema and hotels.

Nanjing is expected, at best, to make 15,000 MG TF sports cars a year here, and even then the bulk of components are shipped from China. Just 130 employees - out of 6,000 when MG Rover collapsed in 2005 - will be tasked with assembling them.
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