Skip to content

A new European car maker at Geneva?

Exciting news at first glance from the Geneva motor show about the launch of a brand new marque, but is everything as it seems? The new company, Qoros, has launched with one production model, the Qoros 3 and two concept cars. They make great play of the European heritage of their cars which have been designed by car styling legend, Gerd Volker Hildebrand, who was responsible for the iconic new MINI.

Exciting news at first glance from the Geneva motor show about the launch of a brand new marque, but is everything as it seems? The new company, Qoros, has launched with one production model, the Qoros 3 and two concept cars. They make great play of the European heritage of their cars which have been designed by car styling legend, Gerd Volker Hildebrand, who was responsible for the iconic new MINI. Hildebrand is part of a European line up of experienced motor industry leaders who are heading up Qoros but beneath the surface the new company has a slightly more international pedigree.

 
The company is a joint venture between the Israeli investment group, Israel Corporation and giant Chinese car manufacturer, Chery Automotive. It turns out that the cars will be entirely built in the Chinese city of Changshu in a purpose-built factory. To add to the Chinese flavour, Chery's chief operating officer is the president of Qoros and some 90% of the cars will be sold in China. Qoros' head of sales and marketing, the Italian Stefano Villanti, still insists though that the cars are European, claiming: "They're all European products. The company has European management and European engineers."
 
The logic of the odd hybrid of European design and Chinese manufacture and sales becomes more apparent when Villanti expands on the marketing strategy for the company: "Our main target is the Chinese market but Chinese consumers like buying European products." What Qoros seems to be about then is convincing a Chinese public with a taste for high quality European imports that these Chinese built cars are somehow that. Confirming its focus on the Chinese domestic market, the company has admitted that it will not be producing any right hand drive models for sale in the UK. Neither will there be any diesel engines which are almost essential for European sales success but unpopular in China.
 
Whether or not Qoros manages to pull off this audacious marketing strategy remains to be seen but the company certainly has big plans. The new Changshu factory will initially have capacity to produce 150,000 cars each year, with expansion planned to treble that figure to 450,000 should the Chinese market respond positively to the new marque. To take advantage of its apparent European heritage, the Qoros 3 will be priced well above cheaper domestic Chinese cars at around £14,000. Initially the company planned to acquire naming rights from a moth-balled European brand in order to increase the appearance of a quality European marque but they have since decided to start with a completely clean slate.
 

Posted by on

Back to March 2013

Back to top