Another UK Auto Maker Shipped Off To China

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

After MG, Rover, and the iconic London taxi maker Mangenese Bronze, one of the last remnants of the British auto industry was bought by a Chinese. By a Chinese woman, to be exact. Dr. Qu Li, owner of Eco Concept Ltd., agreed Thursday to buy for an undisclosed amount LDV, a Birmingham-based van-manufacturing company that went “into administration” in June. The lady has a history.

Li was a consultant for a group of businessmen, called “The Phoenix Four,” who bought auto maker MG Rover from BMW in 2000 for the symbolic price of £10. According to London’s Telegraph, Ms. Li was also the lover of one of them, Nick Stephenson. Over 15 months, MG Rover paid Dr. Li £1.7m, not a bad rate for consulting and consorting. Ms. Li secured investment from SAIC Motor Corp., which bought technology from MG Rover in 2005. Then, the company collapsed.

Van maker LDV was backed by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska until it likewise collapsed when the bottom fell out of the commercial vehicles market. Production at the LDV plant stopped 10 months ago. Eco Concept says LDV will still concentrate on light commercial vehicles but on a smaller scale. Eco Concept “has support from a number of international automotive manufacturers and distributors,” Dr. Li said. Gasgoo thinks that the number is one, and the company is none other than Li’s old pals in Shanghai, SAIC. According to Gasgoo, LDV “is likely to be relocated to Longbridge, currently home of SAIC-owned MG UK.” Gasgoo’s sources suggest that “main assembly will take place in China and only a limited presence will be kept in the West Midlands of UK.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

More by Bertel Schmitt

Join the conversation
4 of 12 comments
  • Bigbadbill Bigbadbill on Oct 16, 2009

    mpresley: Just curious... Is there a rule or a law that slaves cannot earn wages? Is this a historical fact?

  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Oct 17, 2009

    Folks, this may not fit into the preconceived notions some have about China, however, those are the facts: - There are minimum wage laws in China - Following a new labor law enacted in 2008, Chinese jobs are safer, and many benefits are higher than in the US (I now have to calculate approx 30% "social cost" on top of the salaries of an employee.) - People are lining up in front of the factories that pay the alleged slave wages Ignore facts, and forever live in ignorance.

  • Mpresley Mpresley on Oct 17, 2009
    bigbadbill :Just curious…Is there a rule or a law that slaves cannot earn wages? Is this a historical fact? A slave is a slave. If you pay your slave, then what's the point, and are they, then, really slaves? This, of course, does not pertain to wage slaves, a different concept altogether (ask me about that one!), nor to indentured servitude (I've been there, too). The good news coming from China is that when they take us over, we can all work at the Shenzhen iPhone factory (or is it Gaungzhou?) as wage slaves, maybe drive a Buick if we're lucky, but fall for a noodle-girl at the local diner, since the Chinese women mostly like us. And there's nothing like being a slave for your Chinese wife.
  • GS650G GS650G on Oct 18, 2009

    If China builds a domestic car industry, good for them. I'd rather have 1.5 billion people employed doing something than pissed off with time on their hands. Have a little more faith in America. Despite the efforts of the media, Hollywood, governments, and lazy people we still manage to come out on top eventually.