ERJ staff report (TP)
Wolverhampton, UK – A link-up between two historic West Midlands companies has seen the latest car from MG rolling off the Longbridge (in Birmingham) production line with tires made by Goodyear, reported Express & Star.
The Wolverhampton tire factory is particularly pleased, as it is making the special rubber compound that goes into each of the tires being used to equip the new car, Celebrating his company's formal status as an 'original equipment provider' for the MG3, Goodyear's Wolverhampton production director Ian Taylor said: "It's good news for Goodyear and good news for MG.
"It is good that we can build partnerships with another Midlands company, particularly one that has been around so long like ourselves. MG can trace its roots back to 1905, while we have been here since 1927."
Both companies have been through rough times in recent years. The 300-strong workforce at Goodyear in Wolverhampton is a shadow of the 6,500 people it employed at its peak, but the plant is now one of the best performing operations in the US-owned global tire business.
MG, now owned by Chinese carmaker SAIC, operates from a corner of the Longbridge site once occupied by MG Rover before its collapse in 2005.
After launching its first new car, the MG6 hatchback, it unveiled its MG3 supermini this summer.
Spokesman Doug Wallace said: "The car has only been on sale for about four weeks, so it is still early days, but we already have several hundred orders. Some people are putting it off until the new registration plate in the new year, however.
The new car has seen strong demand from younger drivers, thanks to its low 4E insurance rating and its low price. The entry level model is just under £8,500 (€10,190) while the top-of-the-range model is less than £10,000 (€11,988).
The deal with Goodyear sees it provide its newly developed EfficientGrip Performance tire for the cars.
The tires are manufactured at Goodyear plants in Germany, France, Slovenia and Luxembourg but each one contains a specially-formulated rubber compound created at the Wolverhampton factory.
Developed jointly between the team in Wolverhampton and Goodyear's laboratories in Luxembourg, the tires hit the market in March and were chosen for the MG3 because of their fuel efficiency ratings and high marks for performance.
Rachel Eade, head of automotive at the Manufacturing Advisory Service, said: "It is excellent to see two iconic names in Midlands manufacturing collaborating together. MG could have gone anywhere in the world for their tires but they chose to work with a company in the UK, a Midlands neighbour."
News of the link-up came on the day the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) reported the strongest growth in UK manufacturing for 18 years.
Rachel Eade added: "The automotive sector is particularly strong. Partly that is down to Jaguar Land Rover, but we have seen Nissan investing in making the Qashqai in Sunderland and Mini has just unveiled a range of new cars to be made here.
"This is good for scores of companies here in the Black Country [part of the West Midlands] who supply automotive components. And we are seeing a number of them working with the big carmakers on the development of new models, in terms of design and innovation."
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