Chinese-built MG TF sports cars will finally roll off production lines in Nanjing on May 20, it has emerged.
Nanjing Automobile (NAC) confirmed the date to a group of British journalists during a tour of production facilities.
The date is four months ahead of the expected relaunch of production of the two-seater at Longbridge.
NAC, which is far more open than of late, said there was a high degree of anticipation in China for the car and that it already has hundreds of advance orders for the model.
In expectation of the high demand, the company is arranging to take on an extra 1,000 people at its plant.
Yang Junhu, vice general manger of Nanjing MG, said: "It is a very exciting time for us – we started work on this in 2005 and we think the car will be popular."
The success of the car in China may have a bearing on what happens at Longbridge. While confidence in MG in China is strong, in Europe there are fears the brand may have difficulty re-establishing itself.
The MG TF is based on a design which first appeared on UK roads back in 1995 and is thought to need something of a facelift if it is to grab the attention of more demanding European drivers.
This being said, the design of the TF’s nearest rival – Mazda’s MX-5 – is even older and that has retained its popularity with very little alteration.
NAC has pledged additional new models will be built at Longbridge in the near future, with one of them being an updated roadster and coupe.
Others are thought to be a new large car, possibly an updated version of the former 75 model, together with two new mid-range models. The Nanjing plant is already supplying engines and other body parts to the UK for eventual assembly at Longbridge.