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How MG will target Toyota: Chinese brand vows to crack Australia's Top 10

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MG has bold sales ambitions - but it will have to do it without the Extender dual cab
MG has bold sales ambitions - but it will have to do it without the Extender dual cab

MG has detailed its bold ambitions in Australia, with the Chinese brand listing a position on the country's top 10 best-selling brands' list as a "clear goal" as it backs electrification to lift it further into the mainstream.

That's the word from MG's sales and product chief, Danny Lenartic, who told CarsGuide the brand was a "segment leader in some areas already", and would now focus on sustainable growth to claim, and then hold onto, a position as one of Australia's top 10 brands.

"We've got a real strong appetite for growth on an international scale. But the mandate here has always been the same; right dealers, right mindset, right locations, and ensuring that the network helps us grow, and helps us build the brand in an engaging way that's sustainable," Lenartic says.

"And if you get that right, that's where the growth comes from. That's been the blueprint since day one, and it hasn't changed."

MG's is currently on fire in Australia. In a market that has rapidly contracted in 2020, its sales are up 57 per cent so far this year, with more than 8000 vehicles finding homes. It has the best-selling vehicle in the light car segment, with 4138 examples of the MG3 finding homes so far this year, while its SUV offerings are performing strongly, too.

Read More: New MG3 2021 detailed: Segment-leading light hatch to get update - but big changes in store for next-generation Kia Rio rival

And that, says Lenartic, is just the beginning. While seemingly the easiest way to add sales would be to introduce the MG Extender dual-cab (pictured), which is a badge-engineered version of the LDV T60 that's proving popular in Thailand, the brand says it will forgo the commercial market in favour of a more diverse SUV range.

"We're segment leaders already in some areas. To be top 10 obviously we need to have the right model lineup, but its not just about reaching it - there are other (brands) that have reached it but not been able to hold onto it," Lenartic says.

"For us it is all about sustained growth.

"I understand there's an insatiable appetite for pick-ups at the moment, but it's equally insatiable for SUVs. It's about tweaking what we've got rather than coming up with brand new models.

"I think the proliferation of electrification is on our doorstep. As a business, we've put in a lot of effort towards focusing on that, because that allows for a lot of things, be it plug-in hybrid or full electric, and the model line-up can then be manipulated to suit the market needs."

One major bonus for the Chinese brand has been Holden's demise in Australia, with MG picking up a number of former Holden retailers to add to its 63-strong dealership network. Most recently, dealers in Goulburn, Windsor and the Central Coast have swapped from the Lion brand to MG.

"Obviously we don't want to put too many dealers in too many locations. There are still some gaps, but we have 63 dealers across Australia.

"For us, top 10 is a clear goal. But we just move on and continue with the blueprint and let the number take care of itself.

Andrew Chesterton
Contributing Journalist
Andrew Chesterton should probably hate cars. From his hail-damaged Camira that looked like it had spent a hard life parked at the end of Tiger Woods' personal driving range, to the Nissan Pulsar Reebok that shook like it was possessed by a particularly mean-spirited demon every time he dared push past 40km/h, his personal car history isn't exactly littered with gold. But that seemingly endless procession of rust-savaged hate machines taught him something even more important; that cars are more than a collection of nuts, bolts and petrol. They're your ticket to freedom, a way to unlock incredible experiences, rolling invitations to incredible adventures. They have soul. And so, somehow, the car bug still bit. And it bit hard. When "Chesto" started his journalism career with News Ltd's Sunday and Daily Telegraph newspapers, he covered just about everything, from business to real estate, courts to crime, before settling into state political reporting at NSW Parliament House. But the automotive world's siren song soon sounded again, and he begged anyone who would listen for the opportunity to write about cars. Eventually they listened, and his career since has seen him filing car news, reviews and features for TopGear, Wheels, Motor and, of course, CarsGuide, as well as many, many others. More than a decade later, and the car bug is yet to relinquish its toothy grip. And if you ask Chesto, he thinks it never will.
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