A Chinese couple have completed an epic journey by driving their Maxus van all the way from Shanghai to Birmingham because they wanted it to “come home”.
The Chinese-built vehicle’s link with the city might not seem instantly obvious but it is based on the final Maxus model line which rolled off the LDV production lines in Washwood Heath.
In December 2008, after a troubled period for the Birmingham-based van-maker’s Russian owner, GAZ Group finally pulled the plug on LDV.
But the LDV name and the firm’s intellectual property rights were sold to Chinese firm Eco Concept before being acquired by MG-owner SAIC in 2010. Since then, SAIC’s Maxus V80 van, based on LDV’s Maxus and the G10 seven-seat MPV, has been built in Shanghai.
Yaoguo Chen and Jie Wu decided to make a pilgrimage to their V80 van’s spiritual home as part of an epic voyage which has so far seen them travel around 12,000 miles from their home.
The couple, who are both 48, set off from Shanghai on July 1 and arrived in Birmingham on August 26.
“Owning a Maxus is the big reason we wanted to come to Birmingham,” said Jie Wu.
“The vehicle is from Birmingham, it was designed by LDV and it has come home.”
Although the couple said they did not plan to visit the former LDV site, which is now derelict and been acquired by HS2 for development, they said they were delighted to have made it to the city where the Maxus started out.
“We really wanted to come to Birmingham but are also keen to see other parts of England,” added Jie Wu.
“We quit our jobs to do this – I worked for an American company called Abbott and Yaoguo Chen was a press photographer for Shanghai Money Weekly.
“Our friends and family think we are crazy but we are very happy to have done it.”
The couple spent two years planning their trip, which has seen them travel through Mongolia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Holland and France.
LDV’s demise was blamed on the escalating global economic crisis and a lack of investment from its Russian owner. A number of failed rescue attempts took place in 2009 before the assets of the company were sold on by administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers to Eco Concept in October of that year.
After SAIC acquired the LDV name, the first Maxus product, the V80 van, was unveiled at the Auto Shanghai motor show in April 2011.