Mon, Aug 11, 2008 - Page 12 News List

Motor sector ‘Iron Lady’ Wu passes on at age 95

PROVING THEM WRONGVivian Shun-wen Wu had a reputation for tenacity and defied speculation that the Yue Loong motor company would fade in the 1980s

AFP , TAIPEI

“Iron Lady” Vivian Shun-wen Wu (吳舜文), a legend in Taiwan’s motor industry and one of the nation’s wealthiest women, has died of heart and lung failure at the age of 95, her family said yesterday.

The former Yulon Group (裕隆集團) chairwoman passed away at 3:35pm on Saturday at the Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, her family said, and is survived by son Kenneth Yen (嚴凱泰), daughter-in-law Chen Li-lien (陳莉蓮) and granddaughter Michelle.

Born in China’s Jiangsu Province, Wu and her husband Yen Ching-ling (嚴慶齡) moved to Taiwan in 1948.

The couple founded Tai Yuen Textile Co (台元紡織), which under her management fast developed into the nation’s leading textile company, cashing in on Taiwan’s export booms in the 1960s and 1980s.

In 1953, Yen Ching-ling founded the Yue Loong (裕隆) motor company, which began assembling cars under Nissan’s license in the 1960s. There was speculation after he died in 1981 that the company might fold.

But Wu acquired the nickname “Iron Lady” for her tenacity after the carmaker in 1986 successfully rolled out the nation’s first locally designed sedan in a six-year project at a cost of NT$4.5 billion (US$146 million).

The company, which changed its logo and name to Yulon in 1992, continued to thrive and expand.

A venture with Nissan, Yulon Nissan Motor Co (裕隆日產) promotes Nissan-branded cars in Taiwan and other Asian markets.

Yulon has also invested in an automaker in China and set up a joint venture with the US’ General Motors Corp to sell and assemble GM models in Taiwan.

Kenneth Yen took over as chairman of the company last year from his mother and the business spread to industries including textiles, electronics and construction.

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