MUNICH - China's newest automaker, Qoros Auto Co., will target established brands such as Volkswagen and Toyota when it starts sales in Europe, said the brand's design boss, Gert Hildebrand.
The German native led design for BMW's Mini brand for 10 years until January 2011 when he joined Qoros Auto, formerly called Chery Quantum.
"We aim to compete against strong European brands with our new mid-sized sedan," Hildebrand told Automotive News Europe during a visit to Munich, where he has a team working on designs for cars that will be built in China and exported to Europe.
"It's an unbelievably exciting project," said Hildebrand, who oversaw the expansion of the iconic Mini brand into new variants such as the Countryman, Clubman and Coupe models. "When else do you get a chance to take an almost blank sheet of paper and create a new car from scratch?"
Hildebrand is tasked with helping Qoros develop an upscale brand of vehicles for China and Europe with elegant appeal that will also earn five-star crash test ratings from safety organization EuroNCAP.
He said Qoros's first model, a sedan, will aim to compete with cars such as the Volkswagen Jetta and Toyota Avensis. "We will offer the same comfort and safety levels but will be significantly less expensive," he said.
Hildebrand has design teams in Munich and in Graz, Austria, where Magna International Inc. subsidiary Magna Steyr is engineering a range of Qoros cars that will include a hatchback and a SUV within its first two years of production, with an electric vehicle coming soon after.