Auto Market Correspondent
The news was not emphasized enough and in my opinion this is a mistake looking at what happened in the past when the Japanese and Korean OEMs were not given serious consideration.Effectively it looks like everybody is looking at Chinese with the same superior attitude.Why should we not ignore this issue?First of all because we are talking about the Number One.Secondly the project looks very interesting and challenging since it does not seem the typical Chinese approach.Thirdly a tangible amount of money (precisely $ 1.5 Billion) has been invested.
Chery and the Israel Corporation strongly believe in the idea of building European cars to face the European invasion and competition over China. And European Cars can only be built by Europeans indeed.
Thus the best Managers and Designers (former VW, BMW and Volvo employees) have been hired and housed into a comfortable environment away from any kind of Chinese influence, to build factories and choose suppliers with a strong European orientation and integration. Let’s see some European names within relevant positions.
The Designer is Gert Hildebrand (former Designer Chief of Mini), the Vice Chairman is Volker Steinwascher (former VW USA Top Manager) and “dulcis in fundus” there is also an Italian chap, Cristiano Carlutti, as Sales Director (former VP Sales & Operations Tesla Europe).
Regarding figures, we are talking about significant numbers here! Plants are capable of reaching a throughput of 500.000 vehicles/year. In the next months the ramp-up will be “only” of 150.000 units/year!
However, what will they produce and who is their target customer assuming their main reference target is VW Group to penetrate Asia and Europe?The first model is already ready for Crash Tests.It will be a Sedan segment vehicle (rumors say something like Skoda), but there is still a lot of confidentiality about all the details.The only official information is about the first 3 models for the Chinese market will be ready by 2013.
When will we see them on our European streets?Soon.Due to the Chinese Market consolidation there will be at least 3 or 4 vehicles to be distributed over the Old Continent, within a Network to be built from scratch, and additional investments in the electric mobility (Hybrid? Full Electric?… hopefully avoiding the same BYD mistakes!).
Of course there are also additional info that I cannot currently disclose but there is still an outstanding doubt about their strategy represented by the penetration of the European Market!
Our local market is undoubtedly in recession. Therefore what is the main reason for this strategic choice? The demand of the new Chinese generation, richer and fashion-loving? The devaluation of the European salaries and thus the need to have a European product at a Chinese price? The desire to create a strong competitive spirit against the powerful European Automotive OEMs (VW, Mercedes, BMW) to avoid further colonization in Asia? Or just a matter of image and benchmarking?
Oh! By the way! The selling price? From 11,000 to 15,000 EUR…surely for the Chinese Market!
The above article was written by Pietro Montagna.
Pietro Montagna, who serves as the Auto Market Correspondent for The Seoul Times, is an Italian expert in automotive field. He is the administrator of one of the most popular and best-known blogs in Italy. His deep knowledge in the car sector (new and used) and his independence makes him a truth and serious professional advisor for your business. If you think that the future is in your hands and minds, He can help you to developed it. http://it.linkedin.com/in/pietromontagna
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