July 13, 2006 -- Brien Thorstenberg of the Ardmore, Okla., Chamber of Commerce says he plans to be among the first to buy one of the reborn MG Coupes about to be built in his hometown.
The Chamber's development authority won the checkered flag by convincing China's Nanjing Automobile Group to build the fabled MG sports car at southern Oklahoma's Ardmore Airpark. It will be the first Chinese automotive plant in the United States.
"It is a great opportunity for Ardmore bringing over 550 jobs," Thorstenberg says.
The sleek MG convertible was the hot car for baby boomers to have in the 1960s and '70s, but it was plagued by roof leaks and electrical problems. The British company that made the car, originally called Morris Garages, was founded in the 1920s and eventually went bankrupt.
Nanjing purchased the bankrupt company and expects to begin making a reborn MG on an Ardmore assembly line by 2008.
Thorstenberg says the jobs the company will bring to Oklahoma will be "high paying, good quality jobs."
To lure Nanjing, Oklahoma offered incentives, including spending $15 million on the Ardmore Airpark to allow it to land the 747 cargo planes needed to fly in large car parts. The airpark will become a foreign trade zone.
Five months ago, General Motors closed its Oklahoma City assembly plant, which used to employ more than 2,000 workers. The state is delighted that the Chinese will take advantage of its skilled work force.
Nanjing knows it will pay a premium to build cars outside its home country. It is going to locate its global headquarters in Oklahoma City. A new research facility will be located in Norman at the University of Oklahoma, and the company expects to soon break ground on the assembly line in Ardmore.
The new MG is expected to compete in the market for sports cars priced in the $20,000 to $25,000 range. Company officials believe they have purchased a brand name that still resonates and that its purchase is the ultimate example of a global economy at work.
The company's decision means we're about to have a Chinese company producing an iconic British sports car in America's heartland.
Nanjing promises that the new MG will be dependable, and the people of Oklahoma are thrilled to be a part of resurrecting a classic.