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Keen prices to help MG earn its stripes

Second chance: China’s biggest vehicle-maker, SAIC, has promised realistic pricing and specification to get the MG range off to healthy start in Australia this time (MG3 pictured).

SAIC does its homework to avoid Chinese pricing pitfalls in MG range relaunch


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10 Nov 2015


THE new-look MG range could be up to 25 per cent better value than rivals when the 90-year-old British marque re-enters Australia under its Chinese owners next year, if pricing and specification in other export markets are any guide.

The new factory-backed importer, MG Motor Australia, has confirmed the first three models for this market – the mid-sized MG6 fastback hatch and sedan, MG3 light hatchback and GS medium SUV.

Pricing and specification are yet to be announced, but GoAuto understands MG’s owner, SAIC Motor Corporation, has taken pains to study the Australian market to fully understand how each of its models will fit in what is regarded as one of the most competitive markets in the world.

SAIC effectively went back to the drawing board on its plans for the MG rollout in Australia after an attempt to re-establish the brand via a Chinese-based independent importer in 2013 – an arrangement that ended with just six cars sold and 388 sitting on grass.

While the pricing was competitive, starting at about $22,000 plus on-road costs, a number of other factors such as the lack of an automatic transmission option and a solitary retail outlet (in Sydney) hamstrung the project.

SAIC has had more success with its second brand in Australia, LDV Vans, which has emerged as the fastest-growing Chinese motor company in Australia this year.

This week, LDV importer Ateco Automotive announced a new entry-level variant for its G10 one-tonne cargo van range, at $25,990 driveaway for ABN holders – more than $8500 cheaper its closest similar rival, Hyundai’s petrol iLoad with a manual gearbox.

In the UK, where MG has been established for a few years, MG’s products are up to 6000 ($A12,828) better value than nearest rivals, according to a comparison of prices and specification by Autocar.

While the mid-sized MG6 – facelifted early this year – costs 16,195 in diesel entry form, a Skoda Octavia, which Autocar claims is a good match for the MG in size and performance, costs 22,525.

UK pricing is yet to be announced on the all-new MG GS mid-sized SUV to be launched in UK, Thailand and Australia next year, but one British publication says MG sources have hinted the price is expected to be up to 5000 ($A10,722) cheaper than rivals such as the Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai.

While a multitude of factors have to be considered when pricing cars, a similar pricing schedule in Australia would place the entry-level GS, with its turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine and six-speed dual-clutch transmission, in the low $20,000s.

By comparison, another Chinese newcomer, Haval, has announced an opening price of $28,490 plus on-road costs for the automatic version of its H2 compact SUV that is just about to enter Australian showrooms.

Despite sharp pricing and a high-profile touring car racing program in the UK, MG sales have been modest, with just 2461 units sold there this year. However, that is a 50 per cent jump over last year, thanks in part to the arrival of the facelifted MG6 and all-new MG3 light hatchback.

Meanwhile, MG Motor Australia has been having informal discussions with prospective MG dealers around Australia. These include some of the biggest retail groups, as well as smaller dealers who had expressed interest when the independent distributor Longwell was attempting to establish its national network.

However, the formal recruiting process is about to start with an advertisement soon.

The first two MG models, the MG6 and MG3, are due to go one sale in March, with the GS SUV following in about August.

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