MG Rover has officially started production at its Longbridge plant in the UK today under the guidance of its new owner, China’s Nanjing Auto. Despite this major breakthrough in reviving the old label, many pundits still have their doubts surrounding the long-term viability of the project on UK soil.

The plant has been idle since the company went belly-up in 2005, a move that saw 6,000 workers lose their jobs. According to an article in This is Money, Nanjing has pledged to create 1,200 new jobs at the plant are planning to reinstate many ex-MG Rover employees.

The project will see three new MG TF sports models assembled in the UK, however, most of the components are pre-assembled at factories back in China. So far, only 150 employees have been hired and union officials are keen to see this number increase in the coming months.

Click ahead for the official press release from Nanjing.

NAC MG in the UK

May 29 th, Longbridge:

In a historic ceremony today, the media and VIP contingents from both the UK and China will witness the return of MG production to the Longbridge factory, the long-time home of this historic marque. Guest of honour will be Mr Liang Buo Hua, Governor of the Jiangsu Province in China where NAC MG is based and Mike Whitby, leader of Birmingham City Council.

Earlier today, Solicitor General Mike O’Brien, MP visited Longbridge, and personally handed over a letter of support from Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, on behalf of the British Government. Mr O’Brien met senior officials from NAC in the UK and China, as well as Mr Liang Buo Hua.

Since acquiring the assets of MGR Group in 2005, NAC has been devoted to developing the MG brand and MG products, initially in China and Britain.

In only one year NAC completed the construction of a huge, modern production facility in Nanjing and had its first MG cars rolling off the assembly line on 27 th March 2007 – which was also the date of the 60 th anniversary of the company. NAC is also proud to have won the award for the ‘most attractive car’ at the Shanghai Motor Show held in April 2007.

In the UK, NAC has been hard at work at the Longbridge plant; the production lines have been modified to allow the recommencement of manufacturing; a highly experienced management, engineering and production team is now in place, ready to re-launch MG into the marketplace later this year, initially with the famous TF sports car.

Longbridge is an essential part of the MG project. NAC fully understands that they need to keep the originality and Britishness of the brand and the UK is the only place where NAC can absorb the essence of British culture and transfer it into MG products.

The role of Longbridge will be as follows:

* R&D centre for MG

* Engineering & testing of MG models

* HR recruiting for China and Longbridge

* A purchasing and logistics centre for China and Longbridge

* Manufacturing base for the UK and European markets

* Sales & marketing base for the UK and Europe

Today’s event is the next crucial stage in NAC MG’s ambitious development strategy. “We realised from the outset of this project that retaining a manufacturing link with the UK is of fundamental importance,” says Yu Jian Wei, CEO of NAC. “Longbridge will play a leading role in our European operation and the plant is now in a position to commence TF production for the UK market. This is a very exciting time for MG and it’s an important boost to the economy of the Midlands manufacturing region.”

Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council said: “Longbridge is part of the fabric of Birmingham’s heritage and we are delighted that MG’s will roll off the production line once again. "We have worked in close collaboration with NAC to bring about today's announcement. Two years ago, many people thought this day would never come. But as we celebrate a new era for Longbridge, I am delighted that NAC MG will breathe new life into this famous marque.

"This clearly shows Birmingham making the most of international investment, and I am proud of the part the City Council has played to bring it about."