Shanghai: MG Motor India Pvt. Ltd can tap the entire portfolio of sister brand Roewe to bolster its product range in the country even as it prepares to introduce its first model early next year. Cars under the luxury Roewe brand can be rebadged as MG Motor and marketed in India, said Rajeev Chaba, president and managing director of MG Motor India. Both MG Motor and Roewe brands are owned by China’s SAIC Motor Corp., the parent of MG Motor India.

“(The) MG Motor and Roewe brands belong to SMPV (SAIC Motor Passenger Vehicle Co.). All the products of SAIC Motor (from the MG Motor and Roewe brands) are available to the global brand MG," Chaba said in Shanghai earlier in October.

MG Motor and Roewe already share vehicle platforms, he said.

A decision on cross-badging will benefit MG Motor as it has currently a limited range comprising a hatchback, sedan and a sport-utility vehicle (SUV). Roewe has more products, including the RX3 and RX5 SUVs and its latest launch Marvel X electric SUV.

According to analysts, MG Motor should focus on its namesake brand in India since it is better known and has a more favourable perception than Roewe. “When they are starting off, I would worry about establishing the main brand, which is MG Motor. Because Roewe is predominantly considered Chinese, I don’t see a reason for them to experiment with it here unless there is a long-term plan to gain significant market share with a twin-brand strategy," said Deepesh Rathore, co-founder and director at consultancy firm Emerging Markets Automotive Advisors.

MG Motor plans to start selling its first product, a mid-sized SUV, in India in the second quarter of 2019. The second car, to be introduced within a year of the first, will be a fully-electric SUV, the company said last week.

Founded in the UK in 1924, MG is an abbreviation for Morris Garages.

With an investment of more than 5,000 crore over the next six years in India, MG Motor’s foray is SAIC Motor’s attempt to gain a foothold in the burgeoning domestic automobile market, after General Motors Corp., one of SAIC’s partners in China, exited India in May 2017.

The factory can currently produce as many as 80,000 vehicles a year, which “will be expanded to 200,000 units going forward depending upon the requirement", the firm said.

MG Motor’s electric model could be the fully electric Roewe ERX5 SUV, as Mint had reported on 24 April that MG Motor was testing this SUV in India along with SAIC E100 mini car. MG Motor plans to build its entire portfolio of vehicles, including electric vehicles, in Halol, Gujarat, with an aim of sourcing 80% of parts locally.

MG Motor India plans to launch a vehicle each year through 2021, with eight already being tested, said P. Balendran, the company’s executive director.

The writer was in Shanghai at the invitation of MG Motor India.

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