China's newest brand is one to watch

The Qoros 3 Estate Concept previews a potential wagon bodystyle that is popular among European motorists.
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Paul McVeigh is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
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European automakers reeling from the austerity-hit region's slump in car sales will see a potentially more serious, long-term threat from an ambitious Chinese brand at this year's Geneva auto show.

Qoros -- jointly owned by Chery Automotive and investment company Israel Corp. -- will unveil a compact sedan ahead of the car's sales launch in Europe and China later this year.

The Qoros 3 sedan that debuts in Geneva is not especially relevant to western Europe where the best-selling car is the VW Golf hatchback, but the company's two Geneva concepts, a crossover and a station wagon, target popular segments, and Qoros is said to be developing a hatchback.

China's automakers have tried and failed to break into the European market before but Qoros may be a more serious threat because it is using well-established companies such as Magna Steyr and experienced executives such as Gert Hildebrand, former head of styling at Mini, to design and engineer its cars to Western standards.

Currently, Qoros has its eye mainly on the huge Chinese market for its new products. If it can brag to Chinese customers that its cars are good enough for Europe, then it will win more buyers in its home country.

But I wouldn't dismiss their European ambitions out of hand. Not long ago, people said Hyundai would never get a foothold in Europe. The Koreans aren't doing too badly now.

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