At first, the idea of a Chinese government-controlled company building MG sports cars in Oklahoma seems odd.
Yet that's what Nanjing Automobile Groupsays it will do as part of a grand, global enterprise backed by $2 billion in capital. The plan is to build sedans in China; roadsters at MG's ancestral home in Longbridge, England; and coupes in Ardmore, Okla.
Longbridge makes sense because, apparently, Nanjing plans to use manual labor and the traditional British bash-it-'til-it-fits manufacturing process.
And, of course, Nanjing would need to build some people's cars in the home market.
Well, putting the American factory in the middle of flyover land means busybody journalists can't just stop by to snoop.
And don't forget Oklahoma is just two states south of Nebraska.
Thirty-two years ago, it seemed odd when Kawasaki decided to build motorcycles in Lincoln, Neb., becoming the first foreign vehicle manufacturer in the modern era to open a factory in the United States.
And, of course, there are the financial incentives that Oklahoma will heap on Nanjing's plate.
Heck, I guess there are tens of millions of swell reasons a Chinese company might want to build MGs in Oklahoma.
But what were the folks at the state's development agency thinking? Are they that desperate for a car plant now that General Motors has abandoned its factory in Oklahoma City?
They must know there have been other similar sports car projects that failed, despite being fueled by tax dollars.
But maybe if Oklahoma writes a prudent deal, this project will fare better than Malcolm Bricklin's factory in New Brunswick and John DeLorean's venture in Northern Ireland.
Still, I have this haunting image of the incentive proposal landing on some big shot's desk at the Capitol in Oklahoma City with the M and the G transposed.
Where do I sign?
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]