It may not be a name steeped in glamour, but as one of the stalwarts of the former BMC/BL empire, LDV was one of the hardiest survivors. Now it’s back – well, in a sense.
In the past few weeks, LDV has relaunched in Ireland, with talk of a return to the UK not being ruled out by the company’s bosses. The brand has just launched a new website, showing the new V80 (a mildly-restyled Maxus) outside the famous Guinness distillery at St James’s Gate in Dublin.
Today’s LDV is not, of course, LDV as we knew it. The prospect of production returning to Washwood Heath is nil, or, indeed, to anywhere in the UK for that matter…
Following LDV’s protracted demise in 2009, after its Russian then-owners, GAZ Group, failed to make the business work, the intellectual property rights to the Maxus van were acquired by the ubiquitous Chinese industrial giant SAIC Motor – a name that needs no introduction to those who’ve closely followed the post-MG Rover MG Motor saga.
A moderately restyled Maxus, sold as either V80 or Maxus V80 depending on the market, was relaunched in June 2011 and has been sold in several emerging markets, including China, Malaysia and Turkey, while it took the much bolder move of entering the Australian market in 2013. That, of course, meant full right-hand drive production, which means that the Maxus, already fully type-approved for UK use, could be well poised to make a return.
The major sticking point at the moment is the engine. SAIC Motor uses an Italian-built 2.5-litre VM unit in the V80, which isn’t currently Euro6 compliant. However, it will be soon and that could easily open the floodgates for a keen importer to bring the brand back to the UK market.
In the meantime, if you really want to get behind the wheel of an LDV, the opportunity is there in Ireland. Just remember to fill it up with the black stuff before you drive it home…
[Editor’s Note: Our thanks to Roger Blaxall for his input to this article.]