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By Jove, Have MG finally cracked it?

John Sandie 15th August 2019

Macdroitwich news correspondent JOHN SANDIE reports on what is shaping up to be MG Motor’s first BIG TITTED HIT

“Impossible to recommend” and “rotten to the core” screamed the red ink of journalistic reviews of the MG6 as monthly sales figures bobbed around single digits. Panned by reviewers, ignored by customers, MG Motor UK and the MG6 were a standing joke by 2012.

Seven years later, MG are in better fettle and the new MG ZS EV has been received rather differently by reviewers. “A real alternative to the Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf” beamed Auto Express and What Car – normally about as pleasant to MGs as a broken glass enema – gave the new car four stars and predicted it to be “the most sought after MG in decades.”

Whilst none of the MGs launched in the interim have been as comprehensively pummelled by the press as the MG6, reviews of such positivity had eluded the British name with the Chinese twist thus far.

Sales figures can no longer be counted on your fingers and toes. By 2015 monthly sales figures – propelled by the well-priced MG3 - had hit a monthly average of over 260 and the strong success of the petrol MG ZS has seen sales average over 1,000 per month so far in 2019 (this will be covered in a future article) but the well-received electric derivative can make things even better.

Carving a niche in alternative fuel vehicles can perform wonders for the sales performance of smaller brands. The strongest example of this in recent years is Mitsubishi with the Outlander PHEV Plug-In Hybrid. Launched in Summer 2014, Mitsubishi UK celebrated the model's 10,000th registration inside 9 months. Impressive considering the brand as a whole managed 9,044 registrations in the whole of 2013. By 2015, this figure had increased to 22,693 in the first full year of Outlander PHEV's sales. To this day, the Outlander is Britain's most popular plug-in hybrid by a mile in spite of competition from brands like BMW, Toyota and Volkswagen.

MG ZS EV

This was a plug-in success that came out of nowhere for a brand at the time known for uninspired hatchbacks, (by then discontinued) performance saloons and 4x4s and pickups beloved by farmers (and Mackem caravanners). Like Mitsubishi back then, MG have no UK track record of alternative fuel vehicles and their level of sales (9,050 in 2018) is startlingly similar to that of Mitsubishi in 2013. The parallels are there.

Whilst Mitsubishi's alternatively fuelled success came with a hybrid, pure electric cars are growing in popularity. Trust has grown in the technology and ranges have improved dramatically. Kia's recently launched e-Niro and Hyundai's Kona Electric and Ioniq Electric currently have waiting lists of over a year. 800 e-Niros were allocated to the UK for 2019 and these sold out in two weeks. MG are claiming fewer supply issues and with much of the issue for the Koreans being down to battery production MG point to an in-house battery facility capable of producing 300,000 batteries per annum to fulfil demand.

The demand is there, the professional reviewers like it and the Outlander example demonstrates the scope for a plug-in vehicle to perform sales charts wonders, but does the MG ZS EV have the minerals to attract buyers?

This compares extremely favourably with the competition. Kia's similarly sized e-Niro (of the 1990s Morgan-rivalling waiting list) starts at £32,995. The 136ps derivative of the equally elusive Hyundai Kona Electric costs from £27,250 and the standard range version of the long-running Nissan Leaf starts at £27,995.

The MG ZS EV even undercuts smaller competitors. Vauxhall's newly launched Corsa-e will start from £26,490 with its French cousin, the Peugeot e-208, recently being announced as priced at £25,050. At MG's special offer price only the Renault Zoe undercuts the MG ZS EV and on that car there's a monthly charge to lease the batteries on top of the admission price. There is also seemingly the Citroen C-Zero, but one is not certain that thing really is still going.

With a claimed 163-mile range on the WLTP combined cycle the MG ZS EV is competitive without being class-leading. This is broadly comparable to the figures achieved by the 136ps Kona Electric (180 miles) and standard range Nissan Leaf (168 miles) and whilst longer range versions of both cars are available these cost north of £35K. The PSA offerings, however, better the MG ZS EV having claimed ranges above 200 miles, and the Kia e-Niro manages an impressive claimed 282 miles.

With the special offer the MG ZS EV hits a sweet spot, with a range and level of practicality similar to the Leaf and basic Kona but a price that undercuts them both by around £6,000. Even without the offer, the MG ZS EV is still £3,000 cheaper.

Consequently, it's no surprise that propelled by the special offer, MG received 1,000 deposits for the MG ZS EV inside two weeks. The MG promise to match the government grant was initially for the first 1,000 customers – along with a free home charging point – but has been extended now – minus the charging point – to the next 1,000. Word is that they are now close to hitting that 2,000 mark as well.

There are of course a couple of provisos. These “orders” are actually non-committal £500 deposits and are fully refundable, so there may be some who pull out. I also suspect it may be necessary to keep up incentives to undercut the smaller (but 200+ mile range) e-208 and Corsa-e to prevent the initial success fizzling out. The £21,495 price point allows MG to stand out more than they will at £24,995 especially as more and more rivals come to market.

However, it is plain to see that MG have a hit in the making in the MG ZS EV and, with the company's capacity to produce batteries and further MG EVs in the pipeline, the plug-in market could very well be the thing that finally puts the Chinese octagon into a strong position in the British market.

They've certainly come along way since the MG6.

MG ZS EV comment

MG have certainly priced the MG ZS EV well, with a starting price of £24,995 after the government grant of £3,500 (that applies to all electric cars). Generously, MG have pledged to match the grant for the first 2,000 customers meaning a headline figure of £21,495 for the base Excite model and the highly specified Exclusive range topper being £23,495.

Mitsubishi PHEV

The Mitsubishi PHEV, yesterday

The MG ZS EV charge point

MG to launch MG5 EV small electric estate in 2020?

Anne Gossip 23rd August 2019

Macdroitwich lickbait correspondent ANNE GOSSIP gives the latest rumoured product from MG

Speculative reports from sources claiming to be familiar with the matter suggest that MG are planning to launch a small electric estate car on the UK market next year.

The new car will almost certainly be closely related – probably even a straight rebadge – to the Chinese market Roewe Ei5, which uses the platform of the Buick Excelle, a distant relative of the current Vauxhall Astra.

MG RUMOUR MILL

MG NEWS MG5 EV read MG5 ESTATE EV

Impending facelift for 2020 - An MG ZS with NEW more powerful engine?

Anne Gossip 29th August 2019

Tittle-tattle merchant Anne Gossip has more Lickbait for Macdroitwich

It seems like only yesterday that the MG ZS crossover hit the UK market, but next week's Chengdu motorshow will see the unveiling of the car's mid-life facelift.

Opening on the 5th September, the 2020 MG ZS will be amongst a raft of new launches at Chengdu. Styling upgrades see the existing car's Mazda-inspired grille makes way for a new honeycomb design more reminiscent of that fitted to the latest Fords as MG's designers endeavour to make the car look sportier. The front bumper also takes on a more aggressive aesthetic.

MG RUMOUR MILL

MG NEWS MG ZS FACELIFT read 2020 MG ZS FACELIFT

BACK TO TOP ^

MG CHENGDU ROUND-UP: MG ZS Facelift unveiled and a special edition MG HS for MG's 95th Anniversary

Anne Gossip 5th September 2019

Anne Gossip with the latest from Chengdu.

Today the 2019 Chendu motor show opened and, with 95th anniversary celebrations in mind, MG had much to show including the facelift MG ZS and a celebratory HS special edition.

MG NEWS

MG NEWS CHENGDU MG ZS FACELIFT MG ZS FACELIFT read