2009 was a great year for China’s auto makers with a record growth of 45 percent that propelled the market to 13.6 million units and gave it unassailable #1 status. It wasn’t all roses for everybody. For China’s Brilliance, joint venture partner of BMW, 2009 was downright rotten.
Brilliance expects “to record a substantial loss for 2009,” says Global Times, the English speaking arm of China’s People’s Daily.
In its filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Brilliance says the loss was incurred because “the sales volume of Zhonghua sedans did not reach the break-even level.”
Apart from the BMW joint venture, Brilliance sells under at least seven brand names. There are minibuses under the Jinbei and Granse brands. Sedans are sold as Zhonghua, Zunchi, Junjie, and Kubao. (Don’t ask me why the brand inflation.)
The troublesome Zhonghua brand is home to the ill-fated BS6 and BS4 cars (no relation with me) that were supposed to be the Brilliance export break-through. First their BS6, then their BS4 were crash tested in Germany, with horrible results. Some claimed, foul play was involved. However, Brilliance turned into a meteorite: Sparkle, sparkle, poof.
In November 2009, their European importer MSO went bankrupt. Which most likely was one of the reasons for the loss. Thankfully, prior attempts to market cars with a “BS” badge in America were scrapped.