Press Report : Green van plan could revive LDV factory

Jon Griffin, Birmingham Post, 21st August, 2009

A new generation of green vans could rise from the ashes of the mothballed LDV factory in Washwood Heath, Birmingham if backers can be found for a Welsh-based venture.

Low-carbon technology specialist Connaught Engineering, based near Llanelli, has issued a public appeal for financial backers to help turn the environmentally-friendly dream into reality at Washwood Heath. The Welsh company, which includes former Jaguar Land Rover executives and ex-employees from Aston Martin and other leading automotive firms, revealed its plans to keep jobs in Birmingham by developing new green vans two months ago.

Connaught became the first would-be buyer from nine groups who signed confidentiality agreements to state its intentions, but attempts to broker the deal through an unnamed third party from overseas have since fallen through. However,  the Welsh company has reaffirmed its interest in helping rescue LDV, and potentially save hundreds of van-making jobs, by working with a potential buyer.

Administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers this week revealed they were now in exclusive talks with an unnamed would-be buyer over the sale of the business and assets of the van maker, which finally collapsed in early June after six months of non-production.

Connaught Engineering’s Finance Director, Roy Irish, said: “If we can find a partner with the finance, we would be very happy to renew our interest fully. We think there is plenty of mileage yet in hybrid vans. We have got the technology, but we need the financial backing. Whoever buys LDV, we would be very happy to work with them. There are lots of facets on this.

If we can find a partner with the finance, we would be very happy to renew our interest fully. We think there is plenty of mileage yet in hybrid vans. We have got the technology, but we need the financial backing. Whoever buys LDV, we would be very happy to work with them. There are lots of facets on this.” Roy Irish, Finance Director, Connaught Engineering Limited

“You can survive on reduced levels of volumes once you add something different and the something different here would be hybrid vehicles. If we can find somebody to come along to provide the funding, we would have a serious look. Unless you have guaranteed funding, you are not allowed into the factory. Until we get in and look at the track and everything else, you cannot make a final judgement.”

Established in 2003, Connaught Engineering specialises in products which reduce fuel consumption and C02 emissions in LDV’s commercial vehicle sector. Connaught said it would aim to develop green vans at Washwood Heath, including a diesel electric hybrid and a full electric vehicle, with a larger variant aimed at the United States.

PricewaterhouseCoopers said earlier this week: “After an extensive marketing programme and discussions with a range of potential purchasers, the Administrators can confirm they are engaged in dialogue with one party on an exclusive basis, with the hope of achieving a sale of the LDV business and its assets.”

More than 800 workers were made redundant from LDV in June after Malaysian company Weststar was unable to go through with a last-ditch rescue bid to buy the van manufacturer.

[Source: Birmingham Post]

Posted in: AROnline News, LDV
Clive Goldthorp

About the Author:

Clive claims that his interest in the BMC>MG story dates back to his childhood in the 1960s when the family’s garage premises were leased to a tenant with an Austin agency. However, back in the 1920s and 1930s, his grandmother was one of the country’s first female Garage Proprietors so cars probably run in his genes! Admits to affairs with Alfa Romeos, but has more recently owned an 06/06 MG TF 135 and then a 15/64 MG3 Style… Clive, who was AROnline’s News Editor for nearly four years, stood down from that role in order to devote more time to various Motor Racing projects but still contributes articles on as regular basis as his other commitments permit.

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