The first new MG in 16 years rolled off the production line at the Longbridge factory in Birmingham today.
The Longbridge plant closed six years ago, leading to the loss of 6,500 jobs, and the company hopes it will be a new era of manufacturing.
Longbridge manufacturing manager Craig Osman said the economic climate had been tough in the West Midlands over the last couple of years, and he hoped it was a “new start for the Longbridge plant and hopefully the West Midlands”.
“This has been a very exciting time. This is the first all-new product out of this plant for 16 years,” he said.
Some of the factory’s 400 workers gathered to watch the car as it emerged from production amid clouds of dry ice and bursts of coloured foil confetti.
MG, now owned by Chinese car company SAIC, is describing the new vehicle as the first all-new MG for 16 years.
The 1.8-litre MG6 is expected to compete with the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus. Prices for the four-door car are expected to start at around £15,500, going up to about £19,000.
The first car off the line - a red MG6 - was driven by the plant’s only female factory worker, Lisa Ponter. Miss Ponter, who was one of those who lost her job, said she did not hesitate to return when production at the site resumed. “It's very exciting, it is great to see cars coming off the line again. It's been too long and hopefully more people will be employed here.
“We’ve had our down times when we thought it was never going to happen because we’ve been here a while but we have just been working hard to get to this day and it has finally arrived. I think it's a sign that things are on the up for the car industry.”
The MG6 is a welcome boost to the UK car industry after it was badly hit by the recession at the end of the last decade. Production and sales dipped alarmingly at the beginning of 2009 before rallying on the back of the Labour government’s car-scrappage scheme.