MG has confirmed that it will start to produce the TF LE500 model at its Longbridge factory in Birmingham, England in August and that the first cars will reach showrooms in September.

Piet Rademeyer of Pearl Automotive in South Africa, which also imports Bentley and Proton, hoped MG cars would return to South Africa early in 2009 though most supply would come from China.

He expected to have five dealers.

He Xiao Qing, new chairman of NAC MG UK, said after the announcement: "I'm delighted to talk about a launch date for the TF LE500 after planning, re-organisation, quality improvements and parts optimisation that we recognise resulted in frustration for our stakeholders.

"We are now fully focused on bringing our hard work to fruition."

Gary Hagen, sales and marketing director added: "The open sports car is an iconic image of British motoring and the basis of MG's long pedigree. The launch of the TF LE500 signals our determination to keep this class of car at the heart of the brand."

The company expects the new car to appeal to buyers looking for the authentic sports-car experience as well as existing small sports car owners looking to upgrade.

Production at Longbridge will focus on the TF LE500 but engineers at the company's Technical Centre in Warwickshire are already working on future MG models, to take the company into new sectors of the market. - Reuters, motoring.co.za