China plates

State-owned mak­ers team up with Ital­ian de­sign stu­dios

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News -

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

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