Auto China 2012 officially saw the severing of the genetic ties between SAIC Motor’s faux-UK brand and the Rover products it formerly based its cars upon. The impressive new car that headed up Roewe’s motor show hoopla was the 950, which is based closely on the Buick LaCrosse/Saab 9-5, nestling atop a GM Epsilon II platform. The new car looks Asian-generic and comes with a petrol-only engine line-up but, as the Roewe marque looks set to remain China-only, that is not a problem for us.
Stephen Harper also confirms that SAIC Motor’s intention to create a ‘British’ style brand out of Roewe has been abandoned completely, with MG now being the sole point of focus for this interesting way of marketing cars. The car itself is an impressive looking machine, although the 75-style ‘cigar shape’ that the Chinese management spoke of at its launch in Beijing seem a tad fanciful. The 950’s arrival also underlines just why SAIC Motor’s Joint Venture partner, General Motors, did not want to see Saab 9-5 technology (namely the Epsilon II platform) going to a potentially rival Chinese company.
The arrival of the 950 does not mean the 750 is going out of production. The older Rover 75-based car remains on the new car lists and will do so as long as there is a demand for it. Indeed, a pair of hybrid models were shown in Beijing, alongside a new hybrid derivative, this time based on the 550. SAIC Motor is strongly backing the petrol hybrid as its next big development, but is also investing heavily in electric power. A spokesman said that the E1 is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to electric vehicle development within SAIC Motor.
In 2011, the company built a total of over four million cars around the world, and is looking to beat this figure handsomely in 2012.