British Marque Debuts In China With Two Models
Joining fellow countrymen Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce and Bentley, the British luxury automaker Morgan made its debut in China last week at Beijing’s Luxury China Show. (A sort of trade show/parade event for brands with eyes on launching in the China market.) Taking part in the show with a comparatively modest two vehicles, its Plus 8 and Aero Coupe, the marque seemed pleased with the response it got from visitors, making several sales on the launch day alone.
According to China Car Times, one very important guest came by to help out with the official China launch of the 4.8L, V8-powered luxury autos — British Ambassador to China, Sebastian Green. As Morgan China managing director, Jim James, said at the event, “Morgan is the oldest British car company, and the Aero Coupe and Plus 8 are the newest of their lightweight, bespoke luxury sports cars. I am very excited to have the opportunity to launch these cars at Luxury China and to build awareness of this culture-rich brand so that it can quickly establish itself as a known brand in the Chinese market.” The company is aiming at sales of around 50 units per year in its first few years in China.
Now the question is whether Morgan’s cars will find a market in marque-mad China. Basing its marketing strategy on history and heritage will likely work in the long run, but absent the instant name or reference recognition of, say, Aston Martin (e.g., James Bond films, wildly popular in China), sales will likely stay modest and the brand will stay niche for quite some time. Though, as Morgan China execs would probably agree, they’d probably prefer to keep it that way.
Powered by a 4.8L BMW engine, Morgan’s Aero Coupe is a lightweight sports touring car built on a bonded alloy chassis with handcrafted body and interior. Available with a ZF auto six speed or BMW manual six speed gearbox, the vehicle can go from 0-99 kph in 4.5 seconds, topping out at 273 kph. The Plus 8, a two-seater convertible modeled on Morgan’s 1930s design, is the world’s lightest V8 passenger car in the world approved to European safety standards. The vehicle can be operated in two modes, “Sport” and “Auto” and comes with a six speed automatic transmission. Also powered by a BMW 4.8L engine, the Plus 8 — despite its sophisticated looks — can tear down the road at a surprising 249 kph. No word yet on pricing, but considering the Aero Coupe is priced at nearly US$155,140 in its home market — the equivalent of close to 1 million yuan — we can expect it to run far higher in China.