Sunday, 26 August 2007

Firstly I have to thank those of you who sent me messages of good luck – I really appreciate all of those of you that have been interested in what I have been up to over the last however many months. I have been amazed at the response to my resignation from all over the world – an indication perhaps on just how important the MG brand has become to people of all ages, colors, creeds and cultures.

I have received several emails asking for me to explain why I left NAC MG; it seems a straightforward question and one that shouldn’t be too difficult to answer.

However consider this.

I could be negative in my response leading to accusations of being bitter and twisted, and also provide essential material for the doomsayers out there! They would lap up any negativity in my writing, and fuel their already pessimistic and untrusting rhetoric. After all I probably have enough material to sink a battleship, and make any prospective customer, importer or journalist think again about the whole MG proposition.

I could of course continue to be positive and optimistic about the company and the future for the brand, but then this may beg the question – “So why did you leave?” surely if things were so rosy and wonderful any reason to leave must have been superficial or mercenary? This type of stance could be deemed as less than professional, committal or be considered just plain stupid!

This is where you can become torn between your allegiance to the brand, and those that try to breath life back into it, and your own personal / professional reputation.
For these reasons I will continue to keep quite, and only divulge the real reasons to those who buy the book. ‘Calling all publishers out there – I am now free of any corporate silencing shackles – offers on a email please!’

For me this represents a new chapter, one no less exciting or difficult.

I have taken on the role of introducing another one of the UK’s most famous and iconic vehicles into Asia; this time it’s not a brand but a complete vehicle style and transportation proposition. The company that makes the vehicle has been around since 1919 and remains in its original premises; it claims to be the largest British Owned vehicle manufacturer (an inherited and somewhat disappointing fact!).

The vehicle itself is recognisable around the world; some of you may remember that I used to teach my colleagues at NAC about British Culture, History and Icons (The famous tea and cake making lectures!). At the end of the lecture I used to show silhouettes of famous British Icons (The Queen, Stone Henge, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, The London Eye, even (sadly) David Beckham etc.) and then ask the audience to identify them. The three that were universally recognised were the Queen, David Beckham (who was far more popular!) and the vehicle I am now responsible for making in China - The London Black Cab.

Some of you who follow what is happening here in China will already know that Manganese Bronze Holdings plc the company responsible for manufacturing the iconic vehicle, created a Joint Venture partnership with one of China’s largest and fastest growing vehicle manufacturers – Geely. Forming a company call Shanghai LTI (LTI is the UK name for the manufacturing arm of Manganese Bronze Holdings plc and stands for London Taxis International).
Based out of Geely’s, Shanghai Maple production facility we will occupy a newly equipped production facility designed to not only manufacture the current incarnation of the iconic black cab (The TX4), but also future generations of both Taxi’s and passenger vehicles.

Before I go any further, and get accused of raping another part of British Manufacturing history, the site will compliment the Coventry factory – and in no way aspires to replace the design, engineering or production capabilities of the original plant. The factory in Shanghai will provide a production base for LTI’s expansion plans into new and emerging Asian pacific markets. It gives the company the opportunity to develop a vehicle more suited to the Chinese consumers requirements and expectations.

Import duty on foreign built vehicles into China is astronomical, and raises the price of the current British built cab into the luxury car sector, a cost that local taxi firms could not and would not pay. Anyone who has been to some of the big city’s here in China know that the taxi market is currently occupied by old and shabby VW Santana’s – a vehicle that has remained largely unchanged for the last 20 years – but still remains the car of choice for many of the country’s taxi company’s, because of its low initial outlay and servicing costs. The consumer however has become more sophisticated and is starting to demand a more luxurious and practical form of transport.

I will continue with my BLOG, and as always it will be split between industry news and personal views. I still have many friends and contacts at MG, and will follow the company’s progress in China as a distant spectator, as well as reporting a steady flow of news and progress from my next big challenge!

Thanks again for all the emails of support.


Dan said...

Hi Paul
Did I read it right when you said in your previous post that SAIC has taken over NAC?

Jack Yan said...

Good luck with your new venture, Paul! I agree this has potential.
   Dan, from what I know, that is what SAIC desires but nothing is in concrete yet. Let’s just say that there are a lot of Shanghaiese in powerful political positions.