Brakes slammed on electric vehicle investment in Coventry

LEVC had planned to begin trials of its electric van in 2019

Chinese manufacturer Geely has put the brakes on its plans to begin making a new type of electric van in the latest blow to the Midlands automotive sector.

The group owns Coventry-based London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) and had previously announced major investment plans for its Ansty Park site.

In September it said it would start trials of its new electric van in 2019 but has changed course and production is now not expected to begin until the “early 2020s”.

LEVC’s chief executive Chris Gubbey, in an interview with Reuters, said: “On our own, we’re a relatively small player and for us to charge ahead and develop our own product and then try to maintain that and put further investment in to build off that, does not make sense.”

Speaking two years ago, at the opening of the company’s Coventry factory, Gubbey had described the vehicle as “the future proofed ‘white van’ that people have been waiting for.”

LEVC’s decision follows Aston Martin’s warnings about the impact of a no-deal Brexit and Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) recent struggles.

Like JLR, Geely has also been hit by poor sales in China. In December, Geely’s Chinese sales were down 44%, with the group’s global sales down 39%.