Geely coming to the UK: Skoda firmly in the Chinese crosshairs
Towards the end of 2012 (unless the Mayans were right and the world is going to end itself) Geely will be launching an all-out assault on the UK.
First up is the firm's take on the Skoda Octavia, the Emgrand EC7. It'll come with a 1.5- or 1.8-litre engine, and will be available as a four-door saloon or five-door hatchback.
The real kicker for the Emgrand EC7 is its sub-£10,000 price tag, which makes it cheap enough to take on the VW Up. That's quite a bit of car for your money. Geely recognises that the European market has wildly different needs to other markets and insists that this has been taken into account. The firm is especially pleased with the Emgrand's four-star Euro NCAP rating.
Geely won't be stopping at the EC7 - the firm plans to release a new range every year for the next four or five years. This means that within the next decade Geely will field a range to rival that of the big boys.
How will it do this? Geely head office has made an agreement with Manganese Bronze Holdings plc (with whom it already makes black cabs under 'The London Taxi Company' banner) to form a new company – Geely Auto UK. The new company will share offices with The London Taxi Company. Doing this will allow both firms to use the same 'back office' functions like marketing, logistics and finance.
The Chinese firm is looking to secure itself a pretty hefty dealer network of around 30-40 to start off with. Matthew Cheyne, Market Development Director of Geely Auto UK, commented: "The recruitment process has started and we are looking at small independent owned businesses that know their customers and traditionally give excellent customer service. We will also consider such sales and service outlets as former Rover dealers, sharing dealer sites with other franchises as well as smaller regional groups."
Frankly, we can't wait to see former Rover dealers alive and kicking again. Honest.
Cheyne added: "Geely is one of China's fastest growing car manufacturers and already has numerous automotive interests around the world. One of those is the ownership of the Volvo Car Corporation. Our new Geely Auto UK distribution company is totally separate from Volvo operations."
John Russell, Chief Executive Officer of MBH said: "We are all aware of the success that the Korean brands, Kia and Hyundai have had in the UK and we can work with Geely to achieve similar success in the future."