State-owned makers team up with Italian design studios
Leonardo Fioravanti and sons Luca and Matteo. The Italians worked with Chinese engineering company Eastone.
Matteo Fioravanti works in China for a month at a time. ‘‘ There’s a lot more work here than in Europe,’’ he says. ‘‘ It’s the place we have to be.’’
The C90 was the feature car for BAIC’S huge show stand but there were two others from Bertone and one from Pininfarina.
Bertone styled the C51X SUV and C70G, which were shown as concepts. However, a BAIC spokesman says both will go into production, possibly late next year, and both are possible export material.
Bertone design director Michael Robinson echoes the Fioravanti view. ‘‘ Interest in new cars is explosive here,’’ Robinson says. ‘‘ There is just so much work and the Chinese are great to deal with.’’
Pininfarina was responsible for a C70 derivative, the B70, while Fioravanti also designed the C80 sedan.
Shapes may be new but BAIC uses some old drivetrain and chassis technology.
Bertone’s SUV uses the underpinnings of the Saab 9-3, the C70 and B70 are based on the Saab 9-5 and underneath the C90L show car is a Mercedes 6.0-litre V12. Don’t reach for the chequebook yet, as the C90 will come to the market with a Saab-derived 2.3-litre turbo four-cylinder.
The Saab tie-up goes back to BAIC buying Saab technology as the Swede imploded, then forging links with Swedish exotic maker Koenigsegg.
BAIC bought the tooling and design rights to the outgoing Saab 9-5 and became a minority shareholder in the Koenigsegg Group, which in 2009 was attempting to buy Saab from General Motors.
The 9-5 technology includes the platform and Saab’s slantfour turbo petrol engine.
But the $200 million deal included old 9-3 technology. Gmprevented another Chinese group from buying Saab technology but has no issues with BAIC because it regards the assets as outdated.
BAIC is also working with Daimler and Hyundai.
BAIC and forth: The Chinese-italian C70, with
interior by Fioravanti