Blog: Dave LeggettDC van project for China

Dave Leggett | 11 December 2003

I got a definite sense of deja vu when I heard that DaimlerChrysler has been granted government approval to make Mercedes-Benz vans and minivans in China. Sometime in the mid-1990s (not sure when exactly) Mercedes-Benz won a much publicised 'beauty contest' to make the Viano V-class minivan in Hainan island (that's the large tropical island at the bottom of China where they just held 'Miss World'). All the big players were vying for the project and Mercedes-Benz made a bit of a fuss at winning it at the time. It was only when they started looking at the reality - no supplier infrastructure (Hainan island's economy relying heavily on agriculture), bad logisitics, poor quality local labour supply, dodgy local officials - that the project went quietly dead. A decade on, China has changed of course. But looking underneath the hype, I wonder how much though? Some projects are better placed to succeed than others I'm sure.


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