Traditional, family owned firm embraces the future of car making
Morgan is the last family-owned car manufacturer in Britain. Founded in 1909, it’s also one of the oldest. The brand conjures images of stylish, classically designed and powerful looking motor vehicles.
Despite remaining true to many of the original production techniques when it comes to powertrains, the Morgan Motor Company is open to innovations.
At their base in Malvern, Worcestershire, the manufacturer will soon be producing electric vehicles.
Classic to its core
Morgan is a company that keeps traditional values at the forefront, using classic building techniques as well as ultra-modern processes. It’s this combination that has ensured Morgan’s popularity – and it now builds well in excess of 1,000 cars a year, with demand constantly high.
Body work, paint jobs and interior finishes are all completed by hand. The craftsmanship is consistent with the family owned status of the company; that is far removed from the automated mass production methods favoured by most corporate owned manufacturers in the modern world.
Invigorated by innovation
However, that doesn’t mean Morgan haven’t embraced modern technology. Morgan currently use a variety of engines from leading manufacturers, including BMW and Ford, in their cars. Buyers can also choose between having a traditional chassis made from a combination of aluminium and ash, or a modern bonded aluminium version.
In a similar way to Morgan’s adoption of more reliable and efficient petrol engines, there’s no shying away from trying an all-new powertrain.
The company has developed the EV3, an all-electric version of the 3-Wheeler. This uses a 20kWh lithium battery coupled with a 46W motor, and can offer a range of 150 miles as well as a 0-60mph time of under nine seconds!
This car has yet to enter full production – but the business is banking on it being immensely popular once it does.
Family reunion benefits the business
Although the future appears bright for the family firm, it’s not all been smooth cornering. The business’s recent history includes one nasty bump in the road – between the board and the grandson of the founder of the firm as MD.
A falling out led to the acrimonious departure in October 2013 of Charles Morgan, who at the time was the only family member on the board and a 30 percent shareholder*. He’d been in his leadership role since 2006 and had overseen the introduction of the popular Aero, Aero Max and 3 Wheeler models.
He was replaced as MD by Steve Morris in March 2013. Prior to then, Morris had been operations director and had worked his way up from the shop floor, having joined as an apprentice. Upon Mr Morgan’s removal, the board issued a statement that he would remain as “the face of Morgan internationally”.
However, the decision led to an appeal by the outgoing MD, and ultimately a parting of ways. This was followed by undesirable arguments in the media and an accusation of unfair dismissal.
In the subsequent years Charles Morgan claimed on social media that the board planned to make staff redundant following alleged drops in production volumes and, in his opinion, unspectacular new model launches – all of which the board denied.
Fortunately, a peaceful resolution has been found, meaning that an upcoming employment tribunal will be avoided. Dominic Riley, who has been appointed as Morgan chairman since the falling out, states that “the family is now tightly aligned.” Despite growth in turnover, the business has only been achieving break-even in recent years and Mr Riley made it clear that the management team, now free of internal wrangling, intends to address that point.
*Ownership of the rest of the company is split as follows: Charles Morgan’s sister Jill Price holds 11 percent; a family trust set up by their late father, Peter, retains 48 percent; and a further 11 percent split between Craig Hamilton-Smith (son of Charles’s late sister Sonia and her husband, the Tory peer Lord Colwyn) and his sister Jacqui.