The remnants of the socialized mess that was British Leyland, one by one, are being revived. The latest? The Morris Commercial van, with a model name Morris JE. The Morris Commercial brand name died in the late 1960s, a result of consolidation during the Labour era of the U.K. when the country went down the disastrous path of socialism after World War II.
This time, the brand will be electric, and still nominally British, though it is a led by a Chinese company. The CEO and founder is Dr. Qu Li, best known as the daughter of a Chinese auto tycoon. The revived brand will be headquartered in Hinton-On-The-Green.
The new van will not be a replica, but will take the design cues of the old, and bring them back. A press release from the company describes the venture.
The JE successfully takes the essence of the original, iconic design, and re-imagines it as an all-new, sustainable vehicle for the 21st century. With modern styling cues and cutting-edge technology, the company is committed to delivering products with outstanding design at their core and with sustainability firmly at the top of the agenda through its commitment to full electrification. The project, which has been led by a highly experienced team of established automotive designers and engineers, has been a well-kept secret during the development phase, which has now resulted in a fully operational engineering prototype. Headquartered in Worcestershire, the project benefits from an established team of industry experts and consultants from across Europe.
The company also released a statement from Dr. Qu Li:
“I am so pleased to reach this stage after over two years of intense development. It’s been a fantastic journey and I am extremely proud of what the whole Morris Commercial team and its incredible suppliers have achieved. The working engineering prototype has undergone extensive road testing and the end of 2019 is an amazing conclusion to the first phase of the project. We still have a little way to go to bring the project to full production, but we have the team and the product to make this an enormous success.”
The idea of reviving the brand fits well with a continued interest in the antique car brands of the U.K. While many United States brands have died, Chinese and Indian companies have shown an interest in British history and autos. SAIC revived the MG in 2008, and Tata Motors of India is the parent of the British company Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC. BMW is the maker of the the sister Morris car, the Mini.
The website that introduced the plan is well-packed with vintage images. The revival will be a challenge, however, as companies typically do not use trucks brands as advertising, and typically go for the most practical, inexpensive vans. That being said, there is always a market for these types of vans, and when a company is associated with other truck companies in China, using a vintage brand for marketing is a clever move.