2014 AUTOMOTIVE NEWS EUROPE CONGRESS

Qoros wants Europe to account for 10% of global sales, exec says

The Qoros 3 hatchback, shown, will join the sedan variant later this year.
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BRUSSELS -- Chinese carmaker Qoros expects to sell more than 10 percent of its cars in Europe.

"Europe will play an important role," Stefano Villanti, Qoros' head of sales told the Automotive News Europe Congress in Brussels.

The automaker, which is 50-50 joint venture between China carmaker Chery Automobile and Israel Corp., has been selling vehicles in its European test market, Slovakia, for seven months now.

"Slovakia is a sedan market, and our first car was a sedan," Villanti said Wednesday, explaining the choice of the eastern European country as a test market for the region.

Sales in Slovakia will be expanded to other countries in eastern Europe, followed by Nordic countries and then all of Europe by 2016, Villanti told Automotive News Europe in a separate interview.

The Qoros 3 sedan will be joined by a hatchback later this year. A crossover and an SUV with four-wheel-drive capability are also in the pipeline, he said.

Villanti says Qoros will appeal to premium car buyers in Europe.

Villanti said that customers for the “high-quality” compact-sized cars would fall into two categories. “You have the guy who wants an Audi, BMW but wants to pay less, and the other is a compact-segment guy, but who wants a premium car,” Villanti said.

The Qoros 3 sedan currently sells for 20,900 euros in Slovakia. “It’s not the lowest possible price, but it’s one of the best value [cars],” Villanti told the Congress. Standard equipment includes contract-free 3G Internet connectivity.

Qoros’ owners invested $2.5 billion (1.89 billion euros) to build a five-car range, Villanti said. He described it as a “fraction” of what a large, established carmaker would have spent to achieve the same outcome.

The cars are built in a new factory north of Shanghai with an initial capacity of 150,000, but that can be expanded to 250,000 to 300,000 if required, Villanti told the Congress.

You can reach Nick Gibbs at nick.gibbs@btinternet.com.

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