New MG rolls off production line today

A new MG car will roll off the production line at Longbridge today - six years to the week after the West Midlands factory closed with the loss of 6,500 jobs.

Longbridge's only female factory worker, Lisa Ponter, is expected to drive the first car - the MG6 - off the line amid clouds of dry ice.

MG, now owned by Chinese car company SAIC, is describing the new vehicle as the first all-new MG for 16 years.

It is expected that the 1.8-litre MG6 will compete with the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.

Some of the production of the MG6 will be carried out in China, with the engine and electrics, as well as the testing, being carried out at Longbridge, where about 400 people work.

New MG6

Prices for the four-door MG6 are expected to start at around £15,500, going up to about £19,000.

The MG6 is a welcome boost to the UK car industry after it was badly hit by the recession at the end of the last decade.

Production and sales dipped alarmingly at the beginning of 2009 before rallying on the back of the Labour government's car-scrappage scheme.

New car sales of late have failed to match the scrappage-boosted period of 2009/10 but the motor industry believes purchases will pick up in the last half of 2011.

Labour MP Richard Burden, whose Birmingham Northfield constituency includes Longbridge, said: "Today is a real milestone for Longbridge and for the automotive industry in the West Midlands.

"Longbridge has been through dark days. Nothing will bring back the days when thousands were employed on Longbridge production lines. But the greatest tribute we can pay to the heritage that made the name Longbridge synonymous with motor manufacturing throughout the 20th century is to build a future in the 21st century."

He continued: "Today is about that future. Longbridge is a huge site and we need to make sure that the redevelopment which is taking place beyond the MG factory itself adds real value to the potential which this area has for the future."