8 May 2013
From refrigerators to cool cars
- Geely started off as refrigerator manufacturer
- 25 years later biggest privately owned Chinese established car manufacturer
- Emgrand launched in 2009 as new venture into high quality vehicles
Emgrand establishes Geely as quality manufacturer
Geely’s luxury brand, Emgrand, was launched in August 2009 as an extension of the company which broke away from inexpensive, basic vehicles to quality cars at an affordable price.
Geely, now a massive private car manufacturer, was founded by Mr. Li Shufu in 1986. Using money borrowed from family, Li Shufu transformed his company from refrigerator-maker into a successful private automaker selling affordable products to inland Chinese consumers.
After starting manufacturing of motorcycles in 1994 when he purchased a failing, state-run firm, Mr. Li’s company started production of small vans in 1998, and three years later received state approval to make automobiles.
Between 2006 and 2008 Geely expressed an aspiration to export to Europe and the United States, and presented its wares at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show in pursuit of this goal. This was followed with a 2006 showing at the Detroit auto show.
Export to the EU and US has been postponed, but is still on the cards.
Geely approached Ford in mid-2008 about a possible takeover of Volvo Cars. On October 28, 2009, Geely was named as the preferred buyer of Volvo by the American automaker. A deal was reached in late March and completed in early August, 2010.
Volvo continues to operate independent of its new owners, but Geely wants to make Volvo-branded cars in China – something Volvo (but not the Chinese State) has agreed to. This will lead to massive synergy, and Geely communicates with the company via a special, twice-yearly meeting.
In December 2011 it was announced that Geely would begin selling Chinese designed and manufactured cars in the United Kingdom at the end of 2012, with the first model to go on sale the Emgrand EC7. This car is now launched in South Africa after its successful debut in various other right-hand drive countries, but is yet to be made available in the UK.
Emgrand vehicles will be distributed in the UK by Manganese Bronze Holdings, manufacturers of the iconic London taxi (which Geely took over in February this year), trading under the name Geely Auto UK.
Around the time Geely started negotiating the Volvo take-over, the company had already identified the need for better quality cars, albeit at a slightly higher price. Value for money remained at the top of the agenda, and the Emgrand sub-brand was born.
The Emgrand sub-brand was publicly unveiled at the 2009 Auto Shanghai motor show.
Emgrand EC7 production models were completed in July 2009 at the Geely plant in Ningbo, Zhejiang. The EC7 went on sale in China in mid-August that year as Emgrand’s launch model. The second Emgrand production model, the EC8, was launched in October 2010.
In April Emgrand unveiled its KC concept car at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. This new car is a full-size sedan which previews the Emgrand EC9 production model based on the platform of the Volvo S80, and is scheduled to be launched in 2015.