Geely is either hedging its bets, or else planning to forget its statement about doing away with ICE models by 2020: a recently announced JV plant with Volvo to manufacture 1.5-litre aluminium engines is set to open in June 2019. The foundation stone for this factory in the Baiyun district of Guiyang, a city in China’s southwest, was laid in February.
This year: sales to rise by 32%
The company stated earlier this month that it hopes to see a 32 per cent year-on-year combined gain for its Geely and Geely Emgrand brands, equating to an even one million vehicles. As exports remain relatively small scale, almost all of those deliveries will be in the Chinese market.
How realistic are the privately owned firm’s plans? Well, home market registrations were up by 105 per cent for the calendar year to the end of February, reaching 191,629 vehicles, led by the Emgrand 7 sedan, also known as the EC7.
Last year, the Geely and Geely Emgrand model ranges were culled of some outdated vehicles (Freedom Ship, EC8, SC7) and then expanded to a total of eleven models.
Later in 2017 there will be both replacements from some older vehicles, plus a couple of additional models. Combine that with how strong sales were in January-February, and the one million mark starts to look like it will be easily overshot, barring any sudden Chinese market downturn.
One of the most astonishing things about the company’s performance is that it does not have any vehicles in the MPV segments (a Wuling compact minivan was yet again China’s biggest seller in 2016), preferring to concentrate on sedans, hatchbacks and of course crossover-SUVs.
Sales double, profits too
All of this success, which continues from 2016, saw Geely Automobile Holdings doubling net profit to Yuan4.5bn from 2.26bn in CY2015. Vehicles deliveries, excluding Volvo Cars, also shot up by 50 per cent, reaching 765,851 cars and SUVs. Much of the reason was the launch of fresh products.
Three of last year’s most successful new vehicles were crossovers or SUVs, namely the Emgrand Boyue, Emgrand GS and Geely X6 Vision, supported by the new Emgrand GS, a compact sedan.
According to CPCA data, sales of all models in CY2016 were as follows :
Geely Emgrand 7/EC7 sedan & hatchback: 223,781
Geely GC7 Vision sedan: 137,687
Geely Emgrand Boyue SUV: 109,209
Geely MK King Kong sedan: 63,413
Geely Emgrand GS SUV: 60,521
Geely Emgrand Borui/GC9 sedan: 51,828
Geely Emgrand X6 Vision SUV: 49,447
Geely Emgrand GL sedan: 30,037
Geely Emgrand EV sedan: 17,181
Geely Emgrand GX7 SUV: 15,298
Geely GX2 Panda: 7,178
A second prototype of a proposed rival for the Hyundai Equus was revealed at the Beijing motor show in April 2010. This followed the debut of an earlier concept, also named ‘GE’ (but badged as a Geely, not an Emgrand) at the Shanghai motor show in April 2009.
Unlike the Geely GE concept, which had a single ‘throne’ in the passenger compartment, the Emgrand GE concept had two rear seats. A production model had been originally thought likely to be launched in China during 2013.
The car at the Beijing show in April 2010 was claimed to have a 2.4-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine that acted as a back-up for an electric motor. There was then a change of thinking over this project. This followed the appearance of a new luxury car concept, the KC, which carried Emgrand badges, at April 2013’s Shanghai motor show.
The KC, which had fastback styling (like the Audi A7) had a 2,880mm wheelbase and is thought to have used Volvo Cars’ SPA platform. The Geely GC9, the production version of the KC, was revealed at a media event in November 2014.
Prototypes of the GC9 were seen in Melbourne during early 2014 at Premcar’s engineering centre: this is the former Prodrive Australia. In China, engine choice is between 1.8-litre turbo and 2.4-litre four-cylinder units and a 3.5-litre V6. The six speed automatic gearbox is sourced from Australian supplier Drivetrain Systems International (DSI), which is part of Geely Holding Group.
There was a last minute change to the car’s name. Set to be called GC9, it suddenly became the Borui or Bo Rui as it went on sale in China during the first quarter of 2015. This sedan which is called GC9 in some export markets, is said to share much with the Volvo S60L.
The Borui is built by Geely subsidiary Zhejiang Jirun at its plant in the eastern coastal city of Ningbo. This was after Zhejiang Jirun Automobile Company bought Zhejiang Jirun Chunxiao Automobile Components Company from Zhejiang Geely Automobile Company in February 2015.
Despite having entered production in January 2015, there was a minor facelift for the Borui in late 2016. There should be a more substantial update in late 2018, ahead of a replacement in 2022. The Borui should at that point switch from the Ford-based EUCD platform to Geely-Volvo’s SPA