14 May 2009
LDV make vans. They were originally part of BLMC, and ended up a specialist van maker all on it’s lonesome. Then current owner Russian Oleg Deripaska, who also owns GAZ, Russia’s second largest car producer, bought it and things looked rosy. The financial situation has since soured and LDV has been badly hit by recession in Britain, which is where it sells nearly all its vans. LDV suspending production late last year. Now Oleg is not doing well either and it looked as if LDV was to be cut adrift, finally going to the wall. It’s hard to see how they could survive, as they only made about 9,000 vans in 2008, simply not enough. About 800 people are employed at LDV's Birmingham factory and about 1,200 people employed in dealerships. The west Midlands has high unemployment already and this was to be another blow.
Then Malaysian vehicle importer Weststar has agreed to rescue the van maker and the UK government said it would offer a bridging loan to facilitate a deal. LDV announced a partnership with Weststar in 2007 in which Weststar assembles and markets LDV's MAXUS vans in 20 countries in Asia and the Middle East.
There are too few smaller companies these days and it would be good if they could make a go of it. The future for a small player must be as a niche vehicle maker setting the trend in a specialty area such as hybrid or electric vans. I do not know how many lives LDV has left.