In a red-brick shed at the foot of England’s Malvern Hills, Morgan Motor Co. is preparing an unusual assault on the growing Chinese auto market. Managing Director Charles Morgan said the 100-year-old company has created a model that will stand out from the crowd in Asian showrooms.
That’s partly because the M3W is hand-built, wood-framed and based on a 50-year-old design — and mainly because it has three wheels. “Try to sell a Ferrari and you’re up against Lamborghini, the Audi R8, Lotus, McLaren,” he said. “Send a Morgan three- wheeler there and they’ll know the difference.” Morgan, known for retro designs harking back to the England of local composer Edward Elgar, is betting on the M3W to spur Asian demand as slowing economies crimp European and U.S. sales. The comp
any said it has been approached by 20 potential Chinese dealers this year for the 25,000-pound ($39,000) successor to a series of three-wheel models it stopped making in 1952.
Other top-end automakers are also targeting China, where luxury sales may jump 39 percent in 2011 to 939,000, surpassing Germany as the No. 2 market after the U.S., said Jenny Gu, a Shanghai-based analyst at research firm LMC Automotive. British sports-car brand Lotus, a unit of Malaysia’s Proton Holdings Bhd, added its first Beijing dealership in October, even as Chinese consumer demand is forecast to slow as the economy grows less quickly.