All-new Qoros brand to face fierce lineup of automakers

Updated: 2011-12-05 07:57

By Han Tianyang (China Daily)

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 All-new Qoros brand to face fierce lineup of automakers

From left: Gert Hildebrand, head of design of Qoros, Volker Steinwascher, vice-chairman, and Guo Qian, chairman and CEO, announce the new Qoros brand scheduled to begin sales in both China and Europe in 2013. Photos Provided to China Daily

BEIJING - Undaunted by the fact that China now has more automotive brands than any other country in the world, new marques are still being created to join the increasingly fierce competition.

The latest is the brand Qoros to be made by a joint venture between domestic carmaker Chery Automobile Co and US investment firm Israel Corp, a partnership that was registered in 2007 as Chery Quantum Auto Co Ltd.

Though quiet for almost four years, the 50-50 partnership last week announced Qoros - or Guanzhi in Chinese - will be the nameplate of its cars, words that evoke team spirit through pronunciations similar to chorus. It also changed its own name into Qoros Automotive Co Ltd.

The company said it will launch its first model, a compact, in 2013, both in China and Western Europe, followed by a hatchback, a SUV and an electric vehicle.

Testing of the prototype first Qoros model began in October, the company said. It has a plant under construction designed for initial annual capacity of 150,000 vehicles in Changshu, Jiangsu province, a city northwest of Shanghai, that is home to the company's R&D center.

The joint venture currently has 300 employees in China. The number is expected to increase to 1,500 over the next two years, it said.

Qoros aims to be one of the first Chinese automakers to meet the 2013 Euro NCAP 5-star safety standard before export to Europe, the company said in a statement.

All-new Qoros brand to face fierce lineup of automakers

Its products will use a global supplier network including German vehicle engineering and contract manufacturer Magna Steyr, the company said. The engines were designed by the Austrian company AVL List GmbH and will be produced and supplied by Chery. Other suppliers include TRW, Continental, Bosch and Valeo.

Guo Qian, a senior executive of Chery and chairman and CEO of Qoros, said that Qoros has "considerable advantages in the creation of a new car as a young company without a legacy".

"We are designing our products to meet our customers' needs and intend to always keep that at the core of our business," he said.

The team Guo leads includes international industry veterans such as vice-chairman Volker Steinwascher from Volkswagen and chief designer Gert Hilderbrand from Mini.

Yet analysts are cautious about the new brand's prospects. Lin Huaibin at the consultancy IHS Automotive said it will not be easy for Qoros as a brand starting from scratch with little of any consumer awareness.

Zhong Shi, an independent analyst in Beijing, said that whoever now joins the car industry will be jumping into a "red sea" - which refers to a highly competitive market environment.

According to market research firm JD Power-LMC, China now has 93 brands and 481 models vying for customers' attention.

"A latecomer can't win by just repeating what others have done," Zhong said, adding that Qoros will have to roll out products different from the competitors in design and array of functions to find a foothold in the market.

China Daily

(China Daily 12/05/2011 page18)