Wondered what BAIC will do with the used tooling and blueprints it has bought from Saab at the fire sale price of only $200m? BAIC has big plans, and big pockets.
Xu Heyi, chairman of BAIC group, told China Daily that the company will spend some $5b over the next three years to develop three to four passenger car models and two to three turbocharged engines based on the acquired Saab technology.
BAIC will revive their “Beijing” brand which was born in 1958, but abandoned soon thereafter. Beijing’s initial lineup will include a mid-sized hatchback, a notchback, a compact hatchback and a CUV. The cars will be made at 150,000 unit plant in Beijing. Construction will start in February.
BAIC also plans to establish “a world-class research and development center” in Beijing next year, with the acquired Saab technologies as the foundation.
Initially, the Beijing brand is aimed at the mushrooming Chinese market, later, at the world.
“Ultimately, we will push our own-brand cars into the global market,” Xu Heyi said. In addition to direct exports, the group will set up joint venture plants abroad with foreign partners to produce its own-brand cars.
The Saab 9-5 was introduced 1997, based on the already antique 1988 vintage GM2900 platform. The Saab 9-3 was first introduced in1998. BAIC got the later model, based on the 2002 vintage Epsilon I platform. Leading edge technology did not change hands.
Whether “Beijing” is a wise branding choice for the worldwide marketplace remains to be seen.