Photos leaked from SAIC’s factory in Wuxi, Jiangsu show that the Chinese automaker has been working to bring back to life the LDV Maxus van, whose production in Birmingham, England was ended in December 2008.
Launched in 2004, the award-winning Maxus was developed jointly by the now-defunct British van maker LDV and Daewoo Motor at a cost of £500 million. Russia’s GAZ acquired LDV in 2006 with a plan to produce Maxus in one of its Russian factories. As GAZ fell into financial trouble, the plan was never realized and production of the money-losing Maxus was halted in Birmingham towards the end of 2008.
On October 15, 2009, a venture called Eco Concept purchased most of LDV’s assets. The head of Eco Concept at the time was Li, Qu, a British Chinese whose father was a senior official of Nanjing Auto–which became part of SAIC in 2007. Eco Concept was believed to have acted as a proxy of SAIC, the real buyer.
After the purchase, production facilities of Maxus were shipped to the Wuxi factory of Nanjing Auto. According to a Chinese new report, SAIC has since been upgrading the interior and installing new devices on Maxus, with the hope of launching it in late 2011. ABS will become standard, and the high-end version will get features like backup radar, tire-pressure monitoring system, GPS, rear air conditioner. Italy’s VM Motori will supply the same 2.5L diesel engine as the one previously used on Maxus, rated at 88 kW/4000rpm and 300Nm/2000rpm.