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Does China’s largest automaker have what it takes to make MG relevant again?

MG Emblem
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
We won’t hold it against you if you’ve forgotten about the MG brand. The British car maker pulled out of the United States in 1980, and its presence in Europe has been insignificant at best for the past couple of years. Parent company SAIC is hoping to put the historic marque back on the map by investing in the development of a brand new model lineup.

Yang Xiadong, SAIC’s acting executive director of international business, told Australian website Motoring that company executives have prepared a thorough five-year plan that calls for the launch of a slew of new models before the end of the decade. While Xiadong stopped short of confirming what MG has in store, he revealed that SAIC is developing a “full product portfolio” that “will cover all the passenger segments.”

MG currently builds a handful of U.K.-spec cars in Longbridge, England, from complete knock-down (CKD) kits that are shipped over from China. Moving forward, right-hand-drive cars will be built in a new factory in Thailand, while left-hand-drive cars will be assembled either in China or in Indonesia depending on what market they’re destined for.

SAIC will put a large emphasis on cutting-edge technology in order to fight head-to-head against automakers from Asia and Europe that are better established on the market. Xiadong explained SAIC engineers are looking into autonomous vehicles, Internet connectivity, and clean drivetrains to ensure future MG products are just as high-tech as their competitors.

The plan is as challenging as it sounds but Shanghai-based SAIC has the cash to pull it off. Owned by the Chinese government, SAIC is China’s biggest car maker and the ninth-largest in the world. The industrial giant also owns Roewe (a company born from the ashes of Rover, another historic British company that’s fallen off the radar) and it operates lucrative joint ventures with General Motors and Volkswagen in its home country.

SAIC hasn’t revealed if it’s planning on reintroducing MG in the U.S. What’s certain is that — if everything goes according to plan — MG will gradually become a mainstream, volume-focused brand aimed primarily at young buyers. That means brand purists who are hoping to see a 21st century MG B GT or a Miata-fighting, retro-styled convertible inspired by the Midget shouldn’t hold their breath.

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