Horbury wants to add Chinese flair to Geely's cars

Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
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Former Volvo design boss Peter Horbury is thinking hard about the future look of cars from China's Geely Group -- and he has a few ideas already.

The Englishman was named Geely Group senior vice president of design last October. When asked about his styling plans for future Geely models, Horbury said he would like to bring in elements that are unique to China.

Only a foreign pair of eyes would notice such design cues because these elements are so common to the locals, he told me.

Local styling is something that has worked very well at Volvo, which is now owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding, Horbury said. Volvo's models always feature characteristics of Scandinavian design.

"There have to be elements like that in China, too," he said.

His goal is to find the right ones and make them part of Geely's DNA.

Horbury wants to develop Chinese stying for Volvo cars.

Horbury is still undecided about where he will be based. When I caught up with him at Volvo's stand at the Geneva auto show on Tuesday and asked whether he would move from Sweden to China, he said he is not sure whether to work three weeks in China and two weeks in Sweden or relocate to the country with his family.

He said his wife, who is Swedish, has a successful career and recently returned to full-time work now that their daughter is 4 years old.

Horbury joked that the move would probably prove beneficial for his daughter, who he expects would pick up the Mandarin form of Chinese quickly because he says she is already fluent in both English and Swedish.

"Then we would probably move to Barcelona," Horbury joked, because Volvo has a design center there and that way his daughter could learn Spanish, giving her fluency in the three most widely spoken languages on the plant.

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