The Chinese market is contracting but MG sales are surging

The Chinese market is contracting but MG sales are surging

The first of a two-part look at the current and future passenger vehicles of SAIC's own-brands recently examined Roewe. In the concluding chapter, the focus now turns to MG Motor and Maxus/LDV. 

MG

It's been a great year for MG, especially in China where registrations shot up by 102 per cent in August to 19,257. Over the first eight months, MG's deliveries reached 155,605 a year-on-year gain of 95 per cent. That's slightly more than just half of the total for Roewe but there is no denying the achievement of such a massive gain for the MG brand. And it isn't all down to SUVs, as SAIC, like its rival Geely, has been wise to keep investing in cars.

The 6 might not be the best selling MG but it's close to being so. Deliveries in the home market exceeded 64,000 units for the year to the end of August, the car beaten only by the ZS, an SUV, sales of which have surpassed 66,000.

The 4.7-metre long MG 6 has been in Chinese dealerships since last November. It shares much with the Roewe i6, including a platform and wheelbase dimension.

A Plug-in Hybrid prototype was revealed at the Guangzhou motor show in November 2017. That was said to be powered by a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine and one motor with combined power of 167kW/228hp. A production model will likely be added to the 6 line-up soon.

All versions of the 6 should have a facelift in 2021 and be replaced in 2026.

One number down, the MG 5 soldiers on in the Chinese market registrations data tables (34 cars in August) but production has ceased. This five-door hatchback's sedan equivalent, the GT, still exists, but not for much longer, sales having plunged to 340 cars during the first eight months.

In the B segment, MG offers the 3, a five-door hatchback. Despite being more than seven years old, SAIC has no plans to replace the car soon. Instead, after the latest of several facelifts, it will soldier on until 2021 or 2022, which is when the successor is scheduled to appear.

A future battery-electric roadster will be on sale locally in 2021, the head of Sales and Marketing for MG Motor UK told just-auto in August. The release date for the Chinese market was not stated. The car will reportedly look somewhat like the E-Motion, a concept which debuted at the 2017 Shanghai motor show.

The E-Motion had scissor doors and was a big coupé with a front end which made it look like a Jaguar. The roadster will be based on SAIC's Electric Modular Architecture.

This might be one of the models for a new MG and Roewe factory. In September 2017, SAIC opened a plant in the city of Zhengzhou. Then in January, construction on a second phase commenced. Phase two is scheduled to open in 2020 and this will give SAIC a combined annual capacity of 600,000 vehicles. It also lifts the Chinese capacity of the brands to a combined 1.2 million cars and SUVs.

Moving on to SUVs, there are currently three of these. The least successful is the GS, which is fading fast, even though it's not yet four years old. The same size as the wildly popular Haval H6, it somehow has failed to find favour with buyers in China, unlike the ZS.

Production commenced in March 2015 with the motor show debut taking place at Auto Shanghai during the following month. A facelifted model went on sale in Chinese dealerships during December 2016.

The GS is expected to have a short lifecycle with the second generation model due in 2019. That model should also be available in seven-seater form. It will likely introduce SAIC's 'A' platform. The UK importer has stated that the HS will be the effective successor here.

The HS is MG's newest model, its sales release taking place in August. In China, this SUV is positioned in the MG range above the GS as a rival for the Haval H8, Ford Edge and others in the segment. It shares much with the Roewe RX5. Complicating matters, that vehicle is also sold with MG badges but not in China, only in certain export markets (mainly in the Middle East). There should be an electrified variant to come in 2019, to be followed by a range facelift in 2023 and a successor in 2026.

The HS might be the brand's most recently launched vehicle but the ZS is MG's real superstar. After a world premiere at the Guangzhou motor show in November 2016, this 4,314mm SUV went on sale in China during March 2017 and in Thailand seven months later. The Thai market model is locally built.

The launch versions were available only in front-wheel drive form. British market deliveries commenced in October 2017 with engine choice consisting of 1.0-litre turbo and 1.5-litre petrol engines.

EV and PHEV versions are due to be added soon. The UK importer stated in August 2018 that the first of the two would be imported from China during 2019. It was also stated that the local market release of the next ZS would take place in 2022. A facelift is due in 2020.

There is no official name as yet for another MG SUV, a ladder-frame model which will reportedly share much with the Roewe RX8. The latter is a 4.9m long SUV which was released for sale in China in March. SAIC is likely planning to have the big SUV in the MG range by 2020.

Another future SUV is being developed. A restyled version of the Baojun 530 will probably become the first model for SAIC's plan to manufacture MG vehicles in India. The company took over General Motors' former plant in Halol in September 2017 and is revamping the factory ahead of starting production in 2019.

SAIC is yet to say officially what models it will make at Halol. The new MG SUV might be powered by a FCA-supplied diesel rather than the petrol engines which the Baojun original offers in China.

As for the Baojun original, this 4,655mm long SUV had its world debut at the Guangzhou motor show in November 2017. It went on sale in China four months later. Some also believe that an electrified version of the ZS will be locally assembled in India commencing in the final quarter of 2019.

Maxus/LDV

Technically, Maxus is a brand which belongs in the ranks of light commercials. However, SAIC seems keen to expand its remit into passenger vehicles. Like MG, it was originally a British brand, having once been Leyland Daf Vehicles in the pre-SAIC ownership era. In certain export markets, the LDV name is still used but these vehicles are the same as those sold in China and elsewhere as Maxus models.

There are currently four Maxus vehicles on sale in China, the oldest of which is the G10. This large MPV had its sales release in March 2014. It will likely be replaced in 2022 and there may be a minor facelift next year. The G10 is easily Maxus' best seller, with 16,728 registered over the first eight months of 2018. The brand's total passenger vehicle sales numbered 21,194 during the same period.

The EG10, a plug-in version of the G10, was revealed in prototype form in June 2015. The production model was launched at the Chengdu motor show in August but sales are yet to begin. It should probably have a four-year production life, being replaced at the same time as the G10.

The D90 is the second best selling Maxus (YtD: 4,466). This 5.2m long SUV was the first such model for the brand. A concept version, also called D90, was revealed at the 2016 Beijing motor show. The production version followed one year later at April 2017's Auto Shanghai.

The Wuxi plant which SAIC inherited when it took over Nanjing Auto is the manufacturing base for many of the Maxus & LDV brands' models and that includes the ladder frame chassis D90.

SAIC exhibited a concept based on the D90 at the Beijing motor show in April. This big SUV was called the Tarantula and it might enter production as the D100.

The T60 is the brand's only pick-up. Intended to be a rival for Great Wall Motor's Wingle 6 and soon, the Wingle 7, sales commenced in China in the second quarter of 2017. Australia was one of the first export markets, the LDV T60 going on sale there in October 2017.

An SUV derivative in the style of the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport is due to follow, as is a van. There should also be an electric version of the T60 for the Chinese market and the model name should be ET60.

As for the T60's life cycle, this will probably last for a decade, which means a facelift in 2022 and a successor in 2027.

Recent reports for many other manufacturers' future models are grouped in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.

Future product program intelligence

More detail on the past, current and forthcoming models can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database which is part of QUBE.

The next manufacturer to be featured in the future models reports series will be Tata Motors.

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