Major Chinese automotive manufacturer locates to Birmingham Business Park

Over 110 jobs transferring to Greater Birmingham with further growth planned.

Changan Automobile, one of the fastest growing automotive manufacturers in the world, is moving its UK operations to Birmingham Business Park in Solihull.

Headquartered in Chongqing, China, Changan has acquired long-term leases on 24,000 sq ft of space in three Parkside offices at Birmingham Business Park. The site will house the UK head office of Changan’s Powertrain and Research & Development divisions.

Changan UK’s move is expected to be completed by October. It involves the consolidation of existing locations. This includes the relocation of 110 roles from Nottingham Science Park and Fen End, Warwickshire.

General Manager of Changan UK, Dr Xiaoyu Zhang, 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 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.

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, commented: “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. Establishing direct routes to Beijing from Birmingham Airport are helping this region to forge even closer links with the country. Major infrastructure projects like HS2 represent our confidence in realising the region’s full potential. We have solid plans in place that demonstrate to Chinese investors the scale and ambition of the investment opportunities available here.”

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

Last year, Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP attracted more foreign direct investment than any other LEP area in the UK – with 73 investments creating nearly 4,800 new jobs.

Cllr 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.”

Regional business and civic leaders have been in formal discussions with Changan for some time. A senior delegation from Birmingham – which included Sir Albert Bore; Paul Kehoe, Chief Executive of Birmingham Airport; and Neil Rami, Chief Executive of inward investment agency Marketing Birmingham – met with Changan in Chongqing during November 2013.

Neil Rami said: “The Greater Birmingham and Solihull area is attracting more foreign direct investment than ever before, and China remains a key target market for us. The value, size and potential of the Chinese economy offer huge opportunities for us to attract more companies here. Pioneering firms such as Changan UK are incredibly valuable for the local economy; boosting skills development and growing our local supply chains, as well as creating new jobs for the region’s workforce.”

Changan is one of the biggest 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 advanced technology R&D globally. The firm has also established joint ventures with Suzuki, Ford, Mazda, Volvo, and PSA Peugeot-Citroen.

Changan has a number of R&D centres around the world, with four based in Italy, Japan, the USA and the UK. Its UK base – which the firm set up in 2010 – specialises in advanced powertrain technology design and development.