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Geneva News: China’s Qoros sets out European stall

Qoros is a joint venture between China's Chery Automobile and Israel Corporation, an industrial investment company founded in 1968 to attract foreign investors to help develop Israel. It has been majority owned by the Ofer Group, originally a shipping company, since 1999.

At Geneva it unveiled a production version of the GQ3 compact family saloon along with some concept variants including a hatchback and a wagon.

All three were designed by former MINI styling supremo Gert Volker Hildebrand who joined Qoros in January 2012, which demonstrates how quickly this project is moving.

Director of sales and marketing for Europe, Christiano Carlutti revealed that the company has some ambitious plans to roll out additional models at a rate of one every six months.

The GQ3, which will be built at a bran- new factory in Shanghai, is set to debut in China in the second half of this year. Initial production plans are for 150,000 cars a year rising eventually to 450,000 annually.

Although it might be perceived as a Chinese brand, Carlutti was keen to emphasise that Qoros is truly international. He was formerly with Fiat and Tesla while deputy CEO Volker Steinwascher is the former head of Volkswagen in the US.

Other experienced car company executives include the former head of vehicle engineering at Jaguar Land Rover, Peter Makin, who is executive director of the vehicle programme at Qoros, and the former chief engineer for vehicle performance and chassis at BMW, Klaus Schmidt.

The head of the plant in Shanghai formerly worked with BMW's factories in China.

Carlutti said that following launch in China, the Q3 will be rolled out in Europe and the Middle East. He added: ‘Right-hand drive is under study but we have not made a final decision as yet. The important thing is that we get the roll-out right in terms of quality and to establish a good network of importers and dealers.’

While the cars are made in China, engineering and design work is carried out in Munich, Germany. Carlutti said: ‘We have a lot of experience with people from a number of European brands and we have very committed shareholders. They understand that this is an expensive project and the importance of getting it right first time.

‘We are already talking to a number of interested importers and they have acknowledged that we are doing something innovative and that we are delivering on our promises.’

The Q3 is not based on any existing platform. Carlutti added: ‘All the design and engineering and has been carried out by us and we have full intellectual property rights.’

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.