I nipped over to Shanghai last week (spending less than 48 hours on the ground) to attend a big technical and branding exposition for Qoros, the new Chinese-Israeli start-up brand.
It’s a fascinating company and I reckon Qoros could become a case study in future on how to make money from selling cars mass-market cars. The company has developed an all-new platform and a new range of engines, has a shiny new factory and is on the verge of launching a smart new (Volkswagen Jetta-sized) '3' saloon, with a hatchback, crossover and SUV on the way. In China, the cars will be priced at "15 per cent less than a Jetta, with 15 per cent more equipment by value".
Chairman Guo Qian assured me that Qoros’s owners – Chinese car maker Chery and investment fund Israeli Corporation – have so far spent just over £500 million. For established car makers, that sort of money might buy you a heavy makeover of an existing model. Sounds impossible, doesn’t it?
Well, the Qoros venture has a number of advantages. The company was born in 2007 with just a handful of employees. Qoros then hired experienced operatives from the European car industry to guide engineering work that was farmed out to consultancies. They include Klaus Schmidt, an ex-BMW M division boss who is in charge of powertrains and suspension; Roger Malksusson, formerly of Saab, who led on safety design, and design boss Gert Hildebrand, who joined Qoros straight from a decade reinventing Mini at BMW.