At the Geneva auto show, the long awaited Chinese attack on the embattled European auto market will finally get started in earnest – with the help of German and Austrian engineers, and money from Israel. Qoros is a joint venture partnership between China’s Chery and the Israel Corporation. Qoros wants to be to Chery what Lexus is to Toyota and Acura to Honda. It also wants to be the key that unlocks foreign volume markets.
The names on the doors of the executive suite at Qoros sound like a who’s who of European automotive management: A former Executive Vice President of Volkswagen of America, Volker Steinwascher, is Vice Chairman. Gert Hilderbrand. before Chief Designer of MINI at BMW, is head of design. A former Chief Engineer of BMW, Klaus Schmidt, is in charge of engineering. Peter Matkin, formerly Chief Engineer at Jaguar Land Rover, is in charge of the vehicle program.
The cars look a bit more conservative that the cow designs Hildebrandt showed two years ago.
First will be the Qoros 3 Sedan,due to be launched in China in the second half of 2013, with first European sales following later in the year. Launches of further Qoros models are promised at six month intervals.
“The car will attack the 6,000 euro more expensive VW Jetta,” reports Germany’s BILD Zeitung. The paper entertains its readers with the Landwind crashs from 2005, but also reports that the engines come from AVL in Austria, the engineering is from Magna Steyr, “and many parts come from Germany.”
Speaking of safety, Qoros says it “aims to achieve top scores on both European and Chinese crash tests for all its models.”
Chery is China’s largest independent automaker. In a stagnant Chinese market, independents are feeling the pinch by joint ventures between large multinationals and state-owned Chinese companies. Independents seek their salvation in exports, but, as we reported from the Global Automotive Forum in Chengdu, “exports usually come from backwards companies,” as Donfeng’s chairman Zhu referred to China’s second and third tier car companies. Chery wants to break that mold, exporting cars one can be proud of. To sell and to buy.