Sad times

Keith Adams

The engineering design team that launched the Maxus back in Aug 2004 - next to LDV Maxus VIN #1
The engineering design team that launched the Maxus back in Aug 2004 – next to LDV Maxus VIN #1

So, it looks like it could be the end for LDV and I, for one, can’t help but feel that these are increasingly looking like desperate times for the automotive industry in the UK. I suppose that cash-strapped vehicle makers looking after their bottom lines are always going to close overseas operations (just look at GM and Saab – it won’t be the last) – and I can’t entirely blame GAZ for pulling out of the UK, but what angers me is Her Majesty’s Government’s refusal to offer bridging finance to at least give the company a chance of survival.

Given the readiness of the government to bailout the banks (to the tune of countless tens of billions), guaranteeing loans that they won’t then pass on to struggling businesses and households, it’s sickening to see manufacturing allowed to wither and die once again. LDV under management control would have ended up being a British company, too. So why no £30m loan?

My thoughts are with the workers and their families at both LDV and the suppliers whose businesses depend on the company’s output… how galling must it be to see the US and European governments protect their own failing industries while our own go down the pan…

Vive la capitalism, eh?

Keith Adams


  1. I have a solution – stick two cash machines by the front gates of LDV, and call it the the bank of LDV. Then just stand back with your hands out…

  2. Wasn’t the Maxus a Korean design? I thought it started life as a Daewoo. Either way, it is indeed disgusting that the Government won’t support a temporarily struggling firm that has otherwise been pretty successful.

  3. It was capitalism which started the UK motor industry. So we should be grateful for that at least.

  4. The Maxus was a fine achievement – never put into production by Daewoo, I believe, so LDV had the better of a joint venture with a far bigger partner. It seemed to sell too. £30m is chickenfeed to the Government in these troubled times – and it would be a loan, not a gift, so the taxpayer would get it back. Maybe all’s not lost – there’s a lot of brinkmanship going on, and HMG won’t want to be seen to be giving in easily, or they will be faced with ransom requests from other manufacturers. I would have thought LDV could be sold as a going concern – new model, decent plant, strong workforce. After all, plenty of car manufacturers don’t make vans. How about Tata, in return for some help with Jaguar/Land Rover?

  5. Heh, half of it would be nicely covered by “Sir” Fred’s pension… a much better investment. Tata already makes LCVs doesn’t it? They used to sell little pickups that looked oddly like Mercedes SLs and had Peugeot engines, IIRC; I find the idea that they’d be as large a firm as they are in India and not producing vans and light commercial vehicles odd.

    At the end of the day, the growth in the automotive sector has been largely artificial and largely economically “misleading”, as the car costs did not reflect the true costs of production and employment (instead the viability of the firms was based largely on financial projections, investments and speculation). Cars have been too cheap for a very long time.

    Commercial vehicles, by contrast, should be profitable – they’re not cheap for what you get – and it would be a real shame to lose LDV.

    With the Daewoo connection, surely it would have made more sense for Vauxhall to rebrand the Maxus than the Renault-based models they have here. Then they’d be offering a genuine British-made van on the brand that is rapidly losing any sense of local-market credibility.

  6. The pity is that UK produced cars and vans are not selling when Police forces all over the country buy expensive BMW and Volvo cars and Mercedes vans, Ambulance services buy Mercedes and Fire services buy Volvo, MAN and Scania products. There are so many vehicles built in Britain which could easily do the job and provide work for and income for British people.

  7. It seems that the powers that be will never, ever learn the lesson that the ONLY way this country can have a stable future (obviously in as much as that’s ever possible) is to have a BALANCED, mixed economy. We’re suffering worse than most because of our inordinate reliance on financial services alone; most commentators now agree with this, the average person in the street has for years implicitly known this, and yet here we are again – another firm that (gasp) actually MAKES material things is now highly likely to be allowed to go to the wall. It’s far from being a large company but multiply this scenario a thousand-fold and the gravity of the situation is clear. Once manufacturing goes that tends to be it, it’s gone for good; these sort of skills and facilities simply cannot be set up without huge, sustained investment. So what takes their place? – why, it’s more financial services.

    The idiocy and short-sightedness that has got us into this mess continues unabated.

  8. this is tipical!! are we surprised by this? the goverment could’nt give a shit! for some reason the just dont want to give a damn about the car/van industry. its utterly sickening that, as said in the article, the goverment throws billions and billions to sneeky , underhanded, greedy banks that they just hold onto and alow rewards for fayler that runs into millions. and yet they cant seem unable to show just a little bit of loyalty or national pride (like they do in france) and use some of OUR money and help out viable british companys. this would never happen in france or germany.
    why is this goverment so ashamed to be seen as or help anything british!!!

  9. LDV does have a chequered past though, I recall the original management buy out got into trouble, and had to be bailed out by some private equity company, who sold them on anhd eventually on to GAZ. LDV made losses even in the good times, so it’s a hard call for the government, especially when it’s 2 biggest rivals are both made in the UK at the moment as well…The Vauxhall plant at Luton where the Traffic/ Vivaro is made produces far more vans each year than LDV.

  10. That’s a very good point. The public sector should buy British, but the only example I have seen of this is Royal mail with LDV vans. Why didn’t we see Tony Blair in a Rover 75? If the renault velsattis was good enough for chirac why wasn’t the 75 good enough for Blair?

  11. In this country, if you are a member of industry be it in whatever form -I’m coming from the angle of mechanical engineers, fitters, machinists etc. – You are a piece of s**t in everybody’s eyes. I’m sorry to make such a strong statement, but do you get this sort of thing happening in German or Japan?? NO! In those countries engineers are treated like gods and in German, in particular, you have the same status as a lawyer or doctor – It’s the reason I get disheartened with the attitudes in this country and the reasons which actually make me feel like I want to leave. From this point of view, sometimes I feel like it’s better to join the winning side rather than the losing side.

  12. The Maxus was originally developed jointly with Daewoo, and nearly fell down the slats when Daewoo went bust. It was only a tenacious effort by LDV that won them the right to continue developing the Maxus and belatedly get it into production. The lads at Drews Lane had an even worse situation back in the early 1990s when DAF went bust, because then they completely lost, through no fault of their own, the joint project they were pursuing with Renault. That would have given them a modern van range then, instead of which they had to do their best revamping the 200 and 400 vans yet again into Pilot and Convoy. LDV and their predecessors all did a fantastic job getting quarts out of pint pots, and deserve better than to be tossed aside by ignorant politicians. I would far rather ‘taxpayers’ money went to them than to the greedy oafs mis-managing our financial institutions!

  13. I couldn’t agree more, Ross. And as it’s an attitude that’s shown no sign of alleviating I don’t believe it ever will. Look forward to continuing decline, an economy built on straw, and yet another recession in several years, fuelled by debt, that will finish this once-great country for good. It’s terribly sad but entirely self-inflicted.


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