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Chinese car giant Changan heads to Birmingham Business Park

Deal struck to create hundreds of jobs in the Birmingham area as firm expands globally with new deal on Solihull industrial estate

Changan Automobile is relocating its UK operations to Birmingham Business Park

A Chinese manufacturer is set to create hundreds of jobs after a move to the West Midlands as it seeks to become the world's leading automotive company.

Changan Automobile is relocating its UK operations to Birmingham Business Park as part of wider expansion plans.

Changan has acquired long-term leases on 24,000 sq ft of space in three Parkside offices at the Solihull park. The site will house the UK head office of Changan's powertrain and research and development divisions.

About 110 roles are relocating from Nottingham Science Park and Warwickshire by October as part of an expansion which is expected to see Changan's workforce swell to 300.

Dr Xiaoyu Zhang, general manager of Changan UK, said: "We are committed to turning Changan into the world's leading automotive company and establishing advanced technology R&D facilities across the globe is fundamental to our plans for growth. Our new site at Birmingham Business Park in the UK will become a world-class powertrain research centre.

"This new location will strengthen our commitment to the UK market by promoting the growth and sustainability of Changan UK, developing links with local universities and creating new jobs for the region."

The news follows unprecedented interest in Greater Birmingham and Solihull from potential Chinese investors, who are keen to investigate schemes such as the HS2 terminals at UK Central in Solihull and Birmingham Curzon, and the creation of Birmingham's new Smithfield quarter.

Changan is one of the largest car manufacturers in China.

It has nearly 50,000 employees worldwide and is affiliated to the state-owned China South Industries Group Corporation.

Over the last years, the company has made significant investments into advance technology R&D globally. The firm has also established joint ventures with Suzuki, Ford, Mazda, Volvo and PSA Peugeot-Citroen.

Changan sold 2.54 million vehicles last year and 1.25 million in the first six months of 2015 and already has R&D centres in Italy, Japan and the USA.

It has operated in the UK since 2010 but will now become a West Midland operation.

Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, said establishing direct routes to Beijing from Birmingham Airport played a major part in attracting the car giant.

He said: "This region is attracting the attention of investors from across the world, particularly China, and it is fantastic news to have Changan UK locating here. We have solid plans in place that demonstrate to Chinese investors the scale and ambition of the investment opportunities available here."

The news follows a rising tide of demand in the West Midlands from potential Chinese investors.

The Post has spoken to would-be investors claiming interest in schemes such as Birmingham Curzon HS2 Station and the Birmingham Smithfield scheme at the Wholesale Markets site.

Bob Sleigh, leader of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, added: "The internationally renowned skills of the wider region's advanced manufacturing industry, which employs over 180,000 people, was a key factor behind Changan UK's decision to locate here.

"Its move to Solihull demonstrates that we have the reputation – and ability – to attract some of the most exciting companies in the world."

The West Midlands has secured 45 Chinese foreign direct investment projects during the last ten years, securing more than any other UK region outside London over that time.

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