By Ronan Glon
Saturday, Dec 1st, 2012 @ 11:45 am
 

Since being exhumed by China's SAIC, MG has had a hard time selling cars in its ex-native land of Europe. The addition of a 1.8-liter turbocharged diesel engine will likely convince more Europeans to look at the mid-size 6, but MG is counting on mimicking South Korean companies such as Kia to once again become a household name.

Data from England's SMMT indicates that in October of 2012, MG's 47 UK dealers sold just 37 cars. Month after month, abominable sales figures discourage many would-be dealer from opening a new franchise and create a downward spiral. The automaker is not worried about these statistics and it is doggedly convinced that it has what it takes to flourish before the end of the decade.

In the short term.

Next year, the automaker's European lineup will grow with the addition of the MG3, a highly-customizable sub-compact that is available with a MINI-like two-tone paint job. The Golf-fighting MG5 is expected to arrive a year later and a small crossover aimed at the Volkswagen Tiguan is also said to be in the works.

Although most of MG's upcoming cars will start life in China, final assembly will take place in Longbridge, England, and the cars will feature several Europe-specific design bits inside and out. This is roughly the same strategy that Hyundai and Kia have applied to their lineup over the last decade. Today, both companies' sales are booming in the European Union because a lot of their cars are designed and built locally.

If everything goes as planned, MG will expand its European operations outside of the U.K. for the first time in almost a decade at the end of next year. It will begin by setting up shop in small countries such as Belgium, Holland and Denmark where it is relatively easy to open and run a dealer network.

The key to MG's European expansion on the Old Continent lies in finding the right importers. While many companies are interested peddling high-profit luxury cars, a small amount of them specialize in promoting and distributing Asian brands.

"A lot of these guys have built their business up by acquiring the Japanese franchise when they came in, the Koreans when they came in, so they've been researching the Chinese market for a number of years now," said Guy Jones, the head of MG's sales and marketing department.

In the long term.

Once it has all of its bases covered, MG will try to return to its roots and offer at least one performance-focused vehicle. Don't expect the firm to develop a heir to the tiny MG B of yore; instead, MG is looking to catch the next wave in the sports car market.

"We want to create something that's seen as the next breed of sports car," explained David Lindley, the boss of MG's U.K. arm, in an interview with PistonHeads.

Photo by Ronan Glon.