The Nanjing Automobile Corporation (NAC) held a grand ceremony Tuesday to celebrate the restart of production of MG TF sports cars in England's central city of Birmingham.
After a button was pressed by Liang Baohua, Governor of China's eastern province of Jiangsu and Mike Whitby, Birmingham City Councilor, MG TF sports cars rolled off the assembly line in NAC's Longbridge manufacturing plant in Birmingham.
British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott sent a congratulatory letter to the company.
In his speech, Yu Jianwei, CEO of NAC, described the event as "the next crucial stage in NAC MG's ambitious development strategy."
"We realized from the outset of this project that retaining a manufacturing link with the UK is of fundamental importance," he said.
"Longbridge will play a leading role in our European operation and the plant is now a position to commence TF production for the UK market," he added.
Whitby said "two years ago, many people thought this day would never come." "But as we celebrate a new era for Longbridge, I am delighted that NAC MG will breathe new life into this famous marque," he said.
"Longbridge is part of the fabric of Birmingham's heritage and we are delighted that MG TF sports cars rolled off the production line once again," he added.
In 2005, NAC outbid China's biggest automaker, Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corp., to acquire the bankrupt British carmaker MG Rover Group and its engine producer, Power Train Ltd.
With that deal, NAC gained a higher status in the automotive industry, and support from the Chinese government, the Jiangsu provincial government and the Nanjing municipal government.
NAC's stated mission is to "revive, maintain and develop MG" for the benefit of both Chinese and global consumers, and it plans to produce and sell MG cars in the UK as well as in China.
In March, NAC announced it had developed two manufacturing bases, one in Nanjing and the other in Longbridge.
NAC promised to start production of 13,000 MG7 cars in 2007, with the model of a five-seat sedan based on a successful but older Rover 75 design.
It also plans 7,000 MG TF convertible sports cars, with a model of two seats and a mid-car engine. By the end of 2011, Nanjing hopes to assemble 85,000 MG 7 and 25,000 MG TF cars a year.
NAC, founded as a military garage 60 years ago, produced China's first light-duty truck in 1958 and became a joint venture partner with Italian carmaker Fiat in 1999.
(Xinhua News Agency May 30, 2007)