Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Charity Auction Results

As you may have read, me and Ash from ChinaCarTimes, have been running an Auction of Automotive memorabilia in aid of those that suffered during the recent Sichuan Earthquake disaster. http://www.chinacartimes.com/2008/06/17/cct-charity-auction-goes-live/

The auction went live last Tuesday (17th June), and as my first official attempt at raising money for charity the nerves with slightly stretched.
I had enrolled the help of APR (http://www.automotivepr.co.uk/) to help with spreading the word, and within one hour of the auction going live they told me that the SMMT (Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders) had run the press release – I expected great things!

After 6 hours, posts on my BLOG, Ash’s website and the SMMT – the total amount raised was somewhere in the region of £0.24p a disaster beckoned; I quickly contacted Keith Adams at http://www.aronline.co.uk/ (grand daddy of everything MG and Rover), Steve Childs at http://www.mg-rover.org/ (Keith’s wayward offspring) and of course those nice people at Macdroitwich (a pro British Car forum) . All in an attempt to gather some interest and hopefully some more money!

Watching eBay had become a drug – I had my ‘selling’ page added to the favourites on my iPhone, by Blackberry, laptop and PC – I would feel naked if I hadn’t checked the bidding for longer than 30 seconds.

The first few days were painful; I set up several anonymous eBay accounts and resolved myself to bidding if the money didn’t start to role in.

To make myself feel better about the whole thing I would open eBay up in various languages to see how much had been raised in Chinese RMB, US$ and even in Rupee – however ‘not a lot of money’ is ‘not a lot of money’ in any currency.

Why was I worried? Well the whole event had been well reported, both in the UK and in China, I had leant on several high ranking people at Lotus, MG and LTI in order for them to agree to offer some great prizes, and of course the main reason for the auction was to raise money for the relief effort in Sichuan. Had we only encouraged people to donate £3.46 it would be embarrassing for me, the automotive companies, and of course have little impact on those who needed the money.

I needn’t have worried, as the weekend passed we were looking far more respectful and the money had started to trickle in, a competition between MG and Lotus enthusiasts seemed to have encouraged several well healed people to start bidding for badge pride, by Tuesday late afternoon (In China) I happily refreshed my eBay web page and watched the closing moments of the Auction.

With MG consistently in the lead all the way down to the last couple of hours when the Lotus tour took a surprising late comeback, however nothing could hold back the MG fans who proudly took first place for the most money pledged.

The Results

In total we raised £953.50 (or 12,891 RMB, $1875.97 or even 80,633 INR).

Not life changing by any means – but still a respectful amount.

My thanks go to the generous winners:

MG Tour Winner - £360

Mr G. McGeachy from County Kildare

Lotus Tour Winner - £257.50

Mr N. Lohf from Warwick

CCT Advert - £155

P. Vanden from London

LTI Tour - £131

Mr B. West from Middlesex

Lifan Car Models - £50

Mr M. Schug from Bexbach Germany

To all of those who placed bids, and of course to the generosity of:

Richard Ji – Nanjing MG UK

Ben Boycott – Lotus China

Mathew Cheyne – LTI Coventry

Ash Sutcliffe – CCT China

Lifan Automotive – China

Martin Hayes – APR London

Such has been the success of the project; we are considering holding another auction later this year. Over the years I and Ash have collected various items of automotive memorabilia (Signed books by Li ShuFu Geely founder, Registration plates off the first MG built at Nanjing, Limited edition NAC MG models, Limited edition Shanghai Maple and Geely models, etc. etc.) – Let us know what you think and we will plan something over the next few weeks.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Charity 2!

My last few blogs have covered both the disaster in Sichuan, and the efforts to relieve the suffering. So I thought it was about time that I did my ‘bit” – and by joining forces with Ash from the best English website about the Chinese car industry - http://www.chinacartimes.com/. We have come up with a plan to see what we could raise from an already stretched automotive Industry.

The Chinese car companies and Joint Ventures have been extremely generous to the cause – but by pooling our resources, myself and Ashley have managed to squeeze a little bit more out of them, and are offering the chance to bid on some truly “once in a lifetime opportunities”.

To Read more about the individual work done by the Chinese automotive industry here http://www.chinacartimes.com/2008/05/19/automotive-donation-updates/

And here:


So by using my contacts at Lotus, MG and LTI, and Ash’s contacts at Lifan as well as his own website we have managed to convince the powers that be, to offer some great contributions.

The items listed below will be on offer by Auction, which will start on Tuesday 17th June at 9.30 am (GMT) and finish on Tuesday 24th June at 9.30 am (GMT). We will conduct the auction via Ebay, and payments will be made via PayPal direct to the charity.
If you have any queries about the auction, how to payment or would like to offer a similar gift please feel free to contact me or Ashley by email: paulstowemg@hotmail.com or http://www.chinacartimes.com/contact-china-car-times/

I am sure you will agree that both the items on offer, and the cause that it supports are well worth forgetting all about the price of fuel for 5 minutes and making a serious donation.

Lifan Automobiles
On offer are a twin set of Lifan model automobiles, 1:18 in size, and full of realistic features, such as opening doors and real working suspension.

Both models of the well selling Lifan 520 are on offer, the sedan version, and the recently launched Lifan i520, essentially a hatchback version of the 520.

These vehicles are not available in any shop, and are only normally given to VIP guests and customers of Lifan. Like many Chinese manufacturers Lifan create limited edition model vehicles purely for internal use and gifts to special customers and friends of the company, this is one reason why they are produced in such great detail and with close attention to accuracy with the original vehicle.

Ideal for the model vehicle collector, or Chinese motoring industry buff. A definite collector’s piece for the future.

Who are Lifan:
Lifan are a large manufacturer of motorbikes, perhaps you don’t know of them yet in the EU and USA, but mark my words, one day you will!

Here is a brief description of Lifan:
Chongqing Lifan Industry (Group) Co., Ltd is an awakening giant. A company with a history dating to only 1992 enjoying a history success with a recipe for developing into a true powerhouse is positioning itself to become the Chinese Toyota. Lifan has been granted many awards by the Chinese Government including the prestigious China Top Brand award and is rated as the fourth most valuable company in the central China manufacturing Mecca of Chongqing.
No one is to say these are small feats for a privately held, even one ranking among Chinas largest, company with a short history. Approval for export and import of its products was granted in 1998. The 2007 fiscal year saw Lifan become the number one net exporter of Chongqing with US 40Billion being exported to over 100 nations.
American Insurance Group, or AIG recently purchased a 25% stake in Lifan and Lifan hopes to raise RMB 1billion with its IPO planned for late this year on the Shanghai A-Market. The ambitious goal of producing 500,000 vehicles a year by 2010 has been set with factories in car production at home and in countries such as Russia, Vietnam, South Africa, Egypt, West Africa and South America.

You can read more about Lifan on China Car Times http://www.chinacartimes.com/category/lifan/ , or on their official website http://www.lifan.com/en/index.asp

You can find and bid on the item on ebay by using the following link:

China Car Times Advertising

China Car Times is offering one month of free advertising from July to August 2008 as a charity prize.

China Car Times regulary receives more than 1.6 million page views, with a large number of visitors coming from North America, Europe, the Middle East, and of course China!

The advertising space is usually sold for 1,000USD per month.

The advertising space is being auctioned off in aid of the Sichuan Earthquake appeal that China Car Times is currently running. The winner will receive the right to place their advertisement at the top China Car Times, below the headlogo, but above the first story. The advertisement specification is 728*90 pixels.

We wont accept any advertiser that is planning on advertising their adult website etc, so its probably best you email prior to bidding! Obviously the advert would be best aimed at a company in the automotive industry, either one wishing to enter the Chinese market, or a Chinese one wishing to aim at the foreign market.

If you have any questions about the auction, please contact us directly at hello AT Chinacartimes.com – obviously replacing AT with the swirly @
You can find and bid on the item on ebay by using the following link:

London Taxi Factory Tour + Ride and Drive

On offer here is a tour of the largest UK owned vehicle manufacturing company London Taxi’s International – home of the Iconic London Taxi.

LTI Vehicles is Britain's premier manufacturer of purpose-built taxis. They are universally recognized for giving the UK the 'black cab', the icon of the world's best taxi system
The first-ever black cab left the company's Coventry factory in 1948. Since then, more than 100,000 vehicles have rolled off the production line. Nowadays, LTI taxis can be seen in large numbers on the streets of London and other cities and towns in Britain and around the world, including North America.
The roots of LTI's business go back to 1919 when Carbodies Ltd was established as a coach-building operation under the guidance of Robert 'Bobby' Jones on a small site in Coventry.
It was not long before the expanding firm moved to new premises, followed by a further relocation to the present Holyhead Road factory in 1928.
Carbodies soon made a name for itself in the automotive industry for the fine quality of coach-building it could offer prestigious motor companies like Humber, Singer, Daimler, Jaguar, Ford and Rolls-Royce.
In the late 1940s, Carbodies diversified into building taxis. Thanks to a partnership with Mann & Overton and Austin the first FX3 taxi model, carrying the Austin badge, rolled off the production line in 1948. Over the next ten years, more than 7,000 taxis were produced, mainly for the London market, with only a few hundred used in the provinces.
During the 1950s, Carbodies built bodies for the Commer van and, in conjunction with BSA, made the body for the Daimler Majestic. The company also gained experience of building convertible and estate body shells, developing, tooling and producing shells for every Ford convertible until 1964.
As 'convertible' work declined, Carbodies concentrated on producing complete taxis, starting with the FX4 in 1959.
Carbodies was bought by Manganese Bronze Holdings plc in 1973. Then, in 1982, Carbodies took over the intellectual rights to the FX4 from British Leyland.
When Manganese Bronze bought Mann & Overton in 1984, a new company by the name of London Taxis International was formed to manufacture and sell taxis.
London Taxis International (and its predecessors) has manufactured more than 100,000 taxis with numerous model changes, including the Fairway Driver in 1992, Fairway Driver-Plus in 1993, Fairway 95 in 1994, the TXI in 1997, the TXII in 2002 and the TX4 in 2006.

The offer includes a private tour of the factory, lunch, a drive in one of the latest Iconic ‘Black Cabs’ and some special merchandise to commemorate what promises to be a memorable day.
You can find and bid on the item on ebay by using the following link:

MG Factory Tour + Ride and Drive

Generously donated by NAC MG is a tour of the world famous Longbridge manufacturing facility in Birmingham. The home of the British Motor Industry for over 100 years, this will be one of the first ever public tours of the facility since Shanghai Automotive joined forces with Nanjing Automotive a memorable and exciting opportunity to anyone interested in British Motoring History, MG, or even the emergence of Chinese Automotive industry..

The Longbridge plant is an industrial site situated in the Longbridge area of Birmingham, England. Opened in 1905, Longbridge was once the largest manufacturing plant in the world. During the 20th Century the site employed many thousands of people, central to the economy of the local area. Longbridge has produced a wide variety of products, although consistently over time the product has been automobiles, perhaps most notably the iconic Austin Mini. During the Second World War the site produced munitions and aeroplanes such as the Short Stirling.
The factory at Longbridge was founded by Berkshire-born Herbert Austin. He learnt the engineering trade at the Wolseley Car manufacturer, working on tools as well as cars. Whilst at Wolesley, Austin produced an experimental three-wheeled car, and then another in 1896 which was exhibited at the Crystal Palace. This success emboldened him to begin his own business.

In it’s time Longbridge was one of the largest production facilities in the world, reduced in size to accommodate modern production techniques, it still exudes character. The century’s of blood, sweet, tears and politics that have all helped create a magical environment and historical setting for continued car production in the 21st century. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit a magical facility as it re-launches the MG brand into Europe, along with the heavily revamped MGTF sports vehicle. Included in this offer is a drive in one of the first MG TF LE500 vehicles, be one of the first people in the world to enjoy the thrills of driving an open top MG sports car build at the newly owned MG Company.
You can find and bid on the item on ebay by using the following link:

Lotus Factory Tour + Ride and Drive

Lotus has generously offered a tour of their sports car factory in Hethel Norwich, and just as exciting – an opportunity to try out the latest vehicles on offer on their world famous race track.

Lotus Cars is a British manufacturer of sports and racing cars based at Hethel, Norfolk, England. The company designs and builds race and production automobiles of light weight and high handling characteristics.
The company was formed as Lotus Engineering Ltd. by engineer Colin Chapman, a graduate of University College, London, in 1952. The first factory was in old stables behind the Railway Hotel in Hornsey. Team Lotus, which was split off from Lotus Engineering in 1954, was active and competitive in Formula One racing from 1958 to 1994. The Lotus Group of Companies was formed in 1959. This was made up of Lotus Cars Limited and Lotus Components Limited which focussed on road car and customer competition car production respectively. Lotus Components Limited became Lotus Racing Limited in 1971 but the newly renamed entity ceased operation in the same year.

The company moved to a purpose built factory at Cheshunt in 1959 [2] and since 1966 the company has occupied a modern factory and road test facility at Hethel, near Wymondham. This site is the former RAF Hethel base and the test track uses sections of the old runway.
Chapman died of a heart attack in 1982, at the age of 54, having begun life an inn-keeper's son and ended a multi-millionaire industrialist in post-war Britain. The carmaker built tens of thousands of successful racing and road cars and won the Formula One World Championship seven times.

Since then Lotus are known around the world for developing the best handling sports cars of all time, working on countless engineering project for all the major automotive companies worldwide, as well as developing some of the greatest own brand sports and super cars of their own, including the Esprit, Elise, VX220, and Exige models all of which have been designed, engineered, tested and built at the Hethal engineering, production and testing facilities.
You can find and bid on the item on ebay by using the following link:

So there we have it some amazing gifts that I am sure you will agree that they are ones that – "money simply can’t buy". Kindly offered by 3 of the great British car companies – Lotus, MG and LTI.
Showing that not only British motoring is alive and well in the UK, but also that they recognise their social responsibility is global – all companies are intrinsically linked in China having either wholly owned or Joint Venture companies established there. All companies employ Chinese people and have been deeply moved by the events in Shichuan, and each has individually contributed to the Charity causes supporting the people and the families affected.

This Auction is just one small part of that support; I and Ashley (China Car Times) would like to express our thanks to all of the companies that responded to our requests for support. We would also like to thank Lifan for supplying some limited edition model cars for the auction, and to the Automotive PR company APR for supporting the project with some additional PR support in the UK.

My Personal thanks go to:

Ben Boycott – Lotus China
Richard Ji – NAC MG UK
Mathew Cheyne – LTI UK
Martin Hayes – APR

The Auction
The auction is being held by Paul Stowe (www.carryoncabby.blogspot.com) with help from China Car Times (
www.chinacartimes.com) and supported by LTI, Lotus, Geely, Lifan, MG and APR in aid of those affected by the horrific earthquake late last month in Sichuan province of China. Currently, tens of thousands of people are without homes, without furniture, without the means to further their lives. We hope that by auctioning off Chinese car auto memorabilia, we will be able to aid those affected in some way, no matter how big or small. By bidding on this auction, you will be giving to those who are less fortunate than yourself.

Thursday, 5 June 2008


One topic has dominated the business lunches, dinners, meetings and just general chit chat during the past couple of weeks, the topic of Charity in China. The recent earthquake in Sichuan has left all of us shell shocked. The sights, the sounds, and the despair beamed into our homes has been evenly matched by an enormous outpouring of generosity, aid, acts of selflessness and dare I say it – ‘Charity’.

To those of us brought up in the West, Charity has never been a ‘dirty’ word, and some of you reading this may be wondering why I am referencing the word with exclamation marks.

Brought up on a diet of ‘Live Aid’, Village Charity fares, a one eyed teddy bear and a regular stream of slick advertising encouraging us to part with money for deserving causes. We are accustomed to the concept, and acclimatized to supporting orphans, sick dolphins and diseased tress across the globe. However in China things are a little different.

Don’t misunderstand me, as with most things, Charity in China goes back thousands of years. The teaching of Confucius, taught people that helping people in need, was a way to reverse wrongdoings in this life, and would help ensure a better – next life. In fact the Chinese for Charity (Ci Shan) is directly translated as love, kindness, friendship and sympathy, charity was mainly between individuals, and mostly done in secret to prevent embarrassment on behalf of the receiver.

Events were organized by Government departments, or even further back by the emperors to help those in need, but you would not have found any privately managed institutions or groups of individuals ‘clubbing’ together to organize fund raising events.

I am told by Chinese friends that the words Juan kuan reflect the current outbreak of Charity more correctly, as this sequence of words reflects more accurately the giving of money due to a sudden disaster – as with most languages mandarin has many different words to describe similar activities.

After the Revoluion of 1949, Ci Shan became a system of balancing the unequal spread of wealth in the country, a Robin Hood philosophy of taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Responsibility for looking after those in need was the domain of the government; after all there was no concept of being rich or poor in a communist “everyone is equal” society!

This philosophy continued up until the 1980’s, when the opening of trade barriers and a softening of the communist system, led people to turn their attentions to economic growth. This didn’t initially result in a rush to participate in charitable acts, however it has led to an enormous growth of those that ‘have’, and the enormous gap between those that ‘have not’!

China is now home to the second largest number of US$ billionaires in the world, as well as being home to more than 80 million living below the poverty line (less than 1 US$ a day), however despite all of the millionaires and billionaires, 40% of all charity raised in China is via a national lottery, rather than specific donations. Does modern day China still have an issue with Charity?

Regarded as “a decoration of the ruling class used to cheat the people’ during the 1950’s, it is clear to see that individual charity has some clear obstacles to maneuver around before becoming the ‘norm.’ in China, however recent events show that perhaps China is on its way to sweeping away these old perceptions of Charity.

Domestic and foreign donations for the earth quake survivors has reached nearly 40 billion Yuan (US$5.7 billion) with some 22 billion Yuan of aid coming from within China, including a staggering US $130 million from China’s richest 100 people.

What has shocked most of the foreigners living here is not necessarily the numbers, but the fact that this incredible outpouring of public generosity has been completely voluntary. Spontaneous voluntary acts are rare in China; everything is organized, commissioned and directed by committee. An individual outpouring like this, has to have the Chinese government worried - why?

Well I walked into my office 2 weeks ago, and people were collecting money in a brown envelope – not an unusual occurrence in a western office, shop or factory – where there is always someone about to give birth, get married, celebrating a graduation, driving test success or 3rd week anniversary. But during my time in China you rarely see anyone walk around with a collection – it’s just not done. The closest I ever got to it, was when I organized a November the 5th bonfire party at NAC MG, and we pushed a Guy Faukes effigy around in a supermarket trolley – people did give generously, as the children shouted “Penny for the Guy’ in Chinese (another one on the list of Top 10 surreal moments!) .

This current activity wasn’t some dictate from management or government; it was a spontaneous and moving response to the events in Sichuan.

You may wonder why we need to analysis the reasons, and say that we should simply embrace the ideology and generosity, rather than trying to understand it. But the “Why?” could prove to be a significant moment in Chinese history. As for many of us this is a massive change in a country where very few question “Why?” and even less publicly defy ‘normal’ or “expected” behavior.

I examined the question with colleagues, Chinese and Western and all believed it was a mix of emotions brought on by a number of recent factors; the outrage at interruptions to the Olympic Torch relay, the growth of national pride as the Olympics draw closer and the vast amount of unedited coverage of the disaster, which for China is unheard of, and has allowed the population to see the shear extent of suffering caused by a natural disaster on this scale.

All of these have combined to bring this country and its people closure. From the “I Love China” avatars left on peoples MSN and ICQ accounts, to the recent outpouring of generosity The sense of national pride and belonging is immense and frightening, the combination of freedom of mind and desire to make a difference, within a population of over 1.3 billion is an immense force, and one that can change policy, destroy red tape, and even topple governments.

Want to do your bit? please continue to give generously to the http://www.redcross.org.cn/