So far, MG Motor Australia has confirmed just three dealerships – in Brisbane, Sydney’s suburban Campbelltown and on the New South Wales north coast at Coffs Harbour – as it belatedly fires up its three-model range on the Australian east coast.
The current arrangement leaves the nation’s second biggest market – Victoria – uptapped by MG, but GoAuto understands up to three appointments in or around Melbourne are in various stages of confidential negotiation.
The company also is in talks for an inner Sydney franchise to help close the downtown hole in its network, while industry scuttlebutt suggests a single Adelaide outlet is also said to be a work in progress.
MG’s Chinese rival Haval started with four dealerships but now has 13 established showrooms across five states, while light-commercial vehicle specialists Great Wall and LDV have 38 and 45 respectively.
SAIC Motor is making its second attempt to relaunch the former British marque in Australia after the first attempt – via Chinese-owned Longwell Motor – misfired with its shot via a single dealership in Sydney’s Parramatta Rd selling a single model, the MG6, in 2013.
When it officially relaunched the brand through the factory-owned MG Motor Australia last October, SAIC promised a 10-dealership network by the end of 2016 to not only handle the MG6 – now revised with an optional automatic transmission – but also the MG3 light hatchback and, most recently, the GS mid-sized SUV.
However, the brand has been operating with only three outlets. Even though these dealerships – Brisbane MG at Kedron, Macarthur MG at Campbelltown and Coffs Harbour MG – were appointed some time ago, the company today issued a press release announcing the appointments.
Marketing activities are set to ramp up in the next two months to coincide with the arrival of the 2.0-litre petrol GS from China. So far, the only GS variant available is the 124kW petrol 1.5-litre turbo that is flying under radar until the full range arrives.
The MG range will be extended to four later this year with the arrival of the newest model, the ZS small crossover vehicle, that will sit below the GS in both size and pricing.
Unveiled in thinly disguised concept form at last year’s Guangzhou motor show, the production front-wheel-drive-only ZS will hit Chinese showrooms next month, initially with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and later with the 1.5-litre petrol turbo four-cylinder.
GoAuto understands that SAIC is also about to unveil a fresh concept vehicle at the Shanghai motor show in April.
While the company is yet to detail that concept, the company is on record as saying it has another SUV in the development pipeline.
Logic suggests a new MG SUV would sit above the GS, perhaps as a competitor for one of Haval’s larger SUVs such as the H6, H7, H8 or H9.
All new-generation MG vehicles are still designed and engineered in Britain but made in China.
Eventually, right-hand-drive MGs will be built in Thailand where SAIC’s joint-venture factory is undergoing a major expansion.
By Ron Hammerton