Dublin Saab

Cars, politics, sports and what not from my view. (Closed Sundays and Holidays)

Friday, May 06, 2005

Stay away from the quick sand

It’s like an empty crack house. There’s always someone willing to move in and start selling, but it’s never a good idea.

In an article written over at Slate comes speculation that an Iranian company is looking to buy the now defunct MG(hat tip:Centerleft) and get them rolling again. The article is for the most part crap. The writer goes off and has fun with the idea of an Iranian company saying a western company, with the idea of westerners buy an Iranian car, with the fact that the English don’t care where things are made and all just to make the joke “Axles of Evil”.

The article is as weak as the joke. For one it should have been condensed down to the setup, “Did you hear some Iranians are looking to buy the British car company MG?” followed by the punch line, “I guess they want to make Axles of Evil!” Instead the writer wanders around. Though what he’s doing I’m not at all sure. It’s not a total political piece but there are hints of it. Is it a long winded crack at the “Axis of Evil”? Perhaps, given Slate’s core readership, but the thing that really ruins this article for me is the writer’s astounding lack of knowledge of the automotive industry. It feels as if the idea of an Axis – Axles joke came up in an editorial meeting and they just assigned someone to it.

The article makes the core assumption that the Iranians will move in and turn MG into a strong company selling cars around the world. Ha! I wonder if the writer even owns a car. So I am to understand that BMW looked at what MG had and decided it was beyond their power to rescue, then fire selling the thing but now after MG has finally died some group of Iranian investors are going to do what BMW couldn’t? No, they won’t, and that’s not a slam on Iranian business folk but just a reality of the situation that MG is beyond help.

GM bought the Korean car manufacturer Daewoo a few years back. They cherry picked the modern factories and left the bank holding the debt. They are now using it as a foot hold into Asian markets. It wasn’t a rescue. The problems at MG run much deeper than at Daewoo and unlike some of Daewoo’s plants the MG plant at Longbridge is about as modern as a Model-T. The players aren’t interested in MG, and there’s a damn good reason.

So someone, with visions of Alfred P. Sloan in their head, might come along and try their hand at car making. They will fail. MG has one plant that would best be used as a museum, no R&D capability, outdated engines, outdated platforms, ugly cars, massive debt and pretty much zero presence outside of the UK. But some fool may be parted from his money and it’s not just the Iranians at risk, Autocar UK is reporting a group of Americans interested in MG. Just let the poor lady lie.


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