Can the Chinese crack the UK & European markets?

Alongside the familiar brands at last week’s Geneva Auto Show was a newcomer. Qoros showed no less than three concept cars: the Qoros 3 sedan, the Qoros Estate concept and the Qoros Cross Hybrid concept. A pretty impressive roll-call for a brand which doesn’t actually sell any cars yet. So what is Qoros? A joint venture between Chinese automaker Chery and the Israel Corporation, and headquartered in the Chinese city of Wuhu, Qoros was established in 2007. The company has attracted talent from across the European industry, with executives from VW, BMW, SAAB, Opel and JLR. Sales in Europe are scheduled to begin in 2015.

If Qoros launches on the UK market, it won’t be the only Chinese brand to make it to these shores: pick-up buyers can already buy the Great Wall Steed, MG is Chinese-owned and Geely (owner of Volvo) has announced plans to enter the UK market. Qoros represents a serious attempt to get a full-on Chinese brand into the European market.

Will it succeed? Well, the European market is probably the hardest in the world to crack. No other market has the depth and breadth of talent that Europe does – from value-for-money to super-premium, from city cars to supercars, European brands offer it all. There are already low-cost vehicles from European players like Renault’s Dacia, designed with Europe’s stringent safety and emissions rules and consumer tastes in mind. Emissions regulations in particular represent a real hurdle to newcomers, especially in the lucrative corporate sales markets.

But history shows that Europe can be cracked. Forty years ago Japanese brands were struggling to make a mark, then 20-30 years ago it was the Koreans. Now these onetime pioneers are an established part of the market landscape. But it has taken decades of investment in product, matching and exceeding European expectations in design and quality. Can the Chinese achieve acceptance any quicker than that? That’s a question we’re now pondering.

Matt Freeman
CAP – Automotive Intelligence Specialist

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