LDV was at the Hanover Show for the first time, following its takeover by the GAZ Group in July and the new bosses had an upbeat message for visitors.
GAZ group president Erik Eberhardson said: ‘We want to become one of the world’s leading suppliers of light commercial vehicles, offering the best value for money.’
The Russian firm was the country’s first to produce vans in 1932 and now has 17 plants in Russia employing 130,000 people. It boasts a robust 50% of the home commercial vehicle market and is the seventh largest CV producer in the world.
New LDV chairman Martin Leach said while cash would be spent refurbishing the ageing Birmingham factory, two new models – the Maxus minibus and chassis cab – would be launched within a year. Also a Russian-built Maxus would be built and launched in the home market in 2008, while the English plant would continue building right-hand drive models.
Leach said: ‘We have some pretty ambitious plans and GAZ is totally committed to delivering them. Some of the major players are facing hard times and ever-greater levels of collaboration but companies like ours are making expansion plans. At present, the industry is taking a hard look at itself and only the leanest and fittest will survive. I believe we will see some fail completely.’
Leach said GAZ Group subsidiary GAZ International had established a head office in London and the LDV acquisition was the first of many.
He said: ‘We have identified several potential acquisitions and we have the financial resources to make them happen.’
The Maxus is the only model currently being built by LDV and Leach said: ‘It is a great product that can compete with the best of the rest. We are very excited about its future prospects.’
At present, production at the Birmingham factory is being cranked up at a rate of 20 extra units per week and Leach wants eventual capacity to hit 15,000 per year.
Recruitment is likely to start in the city towards the end of the year.
The current VM engines are likely to be replaced by GAZ-built ones. Leach said LDV was also using its presence at the show to attract and recruit new dealers right across western Europe.