Shanghai Auto To Build New Roewe 350 In UK

Roewe 350 To Be Sold In Europe Through Existing MG & Rover Dealers

The Roewe 350 (Shown here at the 2009 Guangzhou Auto Show) will be manufactured in China as well as Longbridge, England

The Roewe 350 (Shown here at the 2009 Guangzhou Auto Show) will be manufactured in China as well as Longbridge, England

Last year, during the Guangzhou Auto Show, Jing Daily looked into the possibility that Chinese mid-range luxury cars could soon hit foreign markets. Although low-end Chinese models have been exported to developing countries for several years now, China’s lack of a strong western-focused luxury marque has been among the greatest obstacles (though there are many more) to reaching potentially lucrative European and North American markets.

Although it will undoubtedly take many years for car buyers in established markets to warm up to the prospect of buying a Chinese luxury car, some Chinese automakers have benefited from the access to these markets allowed by foreign acquisitions. The soon-to-be-finalized Geely-Volvo deal won’t see Americans lining up to buy Geely’s latest models, since the company is just taking over the Volvo name, but it will give Geely a possible conduit that they can take advantage of later, when they feel the time (and their luxury production capability) is right.

This is true as well for Shanghai Auto (SAIC). In 2005, SAIC purchased British automaker Rover, then merged two years later with the Nanjing Automotive Group, which had purchased the defunct British automaker MG also in 2005. With MG and Rover under its belt, SAIC has worked hard to develop models designed both for Chinese car buyers looking for a somewhat affordable “foreign” brand as well as overseas buyers.

According to the BBC, SAIC will begin producing its Roewe — the company cannot use the name “Rover,” as it is owned by Jaguar Land Rover — 350 in the UK, although details on when production will begin and pricing have not yet been released. With distribution networks already in place throughout Europe, the Chinese-owned MG Rover is ready to get Roewe 350s on the streets of European cities quickly, once production begins at the Longbridge plant, but the question remains: What will it take to get Europeans into these cars? MG Rover went bust before, plagued by plummeting sales and mounting debts, so we’re curious to see what marketing angle Roewe takes in the European market — whether they play up the brand’s British pedigree or whether they compete on price.


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