In today’s Exponential Investor…
- A long love affair
- From greatness to failure
- Tesla… or MG?
As a kid my family used to go around to some friends of ours quite regularly. We’d have dinner, our folks would have a few drinks, us kids would run around like little energy-full demons.
These friends we used to visit, we always loved going to their place. Their dad was one of those “cool dads”. He always had something fascinating and interesting going on. At one point he was running a mobile hot tub installation business. I vaguely recall a mobile hot tub trailer parked in the driveway at one point.
Upstairs they had a music room where he had a couple of Fender Stratocasters plugged into some Marshall amps. And out the back in the huge garage, he had a couple of other restoration projects on the go. One was a hovercraft. Yep, he was building a bloody hovercraft in the back shed.
But it was the other thing in the back shed that caught my attention from the first time I saw it. And every time we went around to their house, I asked if I could pop out back to see the “MG”.
It was a late 60s MG MCB. Convertible, the wire-spoke wheels, British racing green. It was classic British motoring at its finest.
Of course as a little kid, I didn’t really give too much attention to its British heritage. I just loved the look and the sound of the thing. It purred, it had a smell about it, a look that I just adored.
Those MGs of that era are classics. And one day I’d love to own something like an old MG or a Morgan or an Austin-Healey. The world might be changing today, and boy is it changing fast – just the cars like those from yesteryear… we should always treasure and make sure not to let them fall away.
The good news is there are plenty of classic car clubs here in the UK, so when the time is right and one finds its way into my garage, I know I won’t be alone in my love for this British classics.
The end of an era…
MG rose to popularity in the early and mid-parts of the 20th century. The M.G. Car Company officially was founded in 1930, but has roots that trace back about a decade earlier.
MG as a car company has a tumultuous history. It was sold to Morris Motors. Which was then merged with Austin Motor Company to become the British Motor Corporation, which then became British Motor Holdings and eventually landing with Leyland as British Leyland Motor Corporation.
That ended up as the Rover Group. And then MG ended up as part of the BMW Group. BMW sold it off, then to return to the MG Rover Group… until 2005.
In 2005 MG Rover went into administration. It was the end of an era. Albeit MG had really ended years earlier. While its early cars from MG and under Austin, BMC and BL, are still renowned as classics, not much after was particularly great.
There was the MG-F, the convertible sports car from when it was at the Rover Group and BMW Group. That did ok, and in fact was one of the MG brand’s most popular cars. But since that, well the MG name has been one of those sad stories of British manufacturing.
However, while MG kind of died with MG Rover in 2005, it wasn’t done and dusted. The Chinese company Nanjing Automobile bought the assets on the cheap. And Nanjing eventually became part of the Chinese car giant (and state-owned), SAIC Motors.
And it is with SAIC that the great British marque of MG now exists in its current state.
Sadly the MG designs from the past are a world away from the current iteration of MGs. Today SAIC puts out small hatchbacks and small SUVs under the MG brand. For the MG purists, I’m pretty sure when they see a modern MG on the road a little bit of sick comes up from the gut.
Nonetheless, the name MG lives on, and while for some time it appeared that MG was all but resigned to the pages of history, it’s future might be far more exciting than perhaps it’s given credit for.
Tesla and MG – an unlikely pairing
Before we get too carried away with the potential for MG to rise again, I should preface all this with the idea that you need to drop any association with Britain. MG is a name that evokes British heritage, but today it’s not even close to a British company.
It’s Chinese owned, has major markets in India and Europe and there’s no sweet hum from an MG engine any more, but the sweet sound of silence. It’s still sold in the UK, but that’s about as far as it goes these days.
You see MGs future (as many car companies) is in electric vehicles (EVs). MG’s EVs are now shifting in considerable and growing numbers. The MG ZS is an all-electric small SUV that’s really getting traction in Europe.
In fact, MG’s growth and the popularity of the ZS is such that it has now already captured 2% of the European EV market. Now I will say, it’s not exactly what you’d call pretty. But it serves a function.
However, what’s really interesting is that with MG growing and there being a market for the cars and for the brand again, there may just be something else… a Tesla killer even… on the horizon.
As mentioned, the MG-F was hugely popular as it had some hallmarks back to the classic MGs of history. The next great MG sportscar may just draw on the success of the MG-F and the historic classics. And soon enough, the MG E-Motion might bring a whole new generation to the MG name.
The MG E-Motion is aiming to have a 310-mile range and get off the line with four seconds. Also, if early designs are anything to go by, it’s going to be quite nice to look at.
If this is even close to as successful as the ZS EV, we might be talking about the biggest resurgence of a British (brand) perhaps ever. And if it adds to the market share of MG’s growing EV business, we could be talking about a new name that comes to mind when people think of EVs in Europe and the UK.
Editor, Exponential Investor