British car designers are being poached by Chinese automakers

By BLOOMBERG | 2 February 2019

LONDON: Chinese car companies with global ambitions are hiring designers from some of the most iconic names in the British auto world.

Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd., the company controlled by Volvo Car Group owner and billionaire Li Shufu, named Wayne Burgess (pic) as the head of a new design studio to be based in the UK manufacturing hub of Coventry, Geely said in a statement Friday.

Burgess was the chief designer at Jaguar Land Rover and also worked at Aston Martin Lagonda. He led the team that created the F‑PACE, XE, XF, F‑TYPE, and XJ models. He was also credited with designing the exterior of the Aston DB9.

Li isn’t the first Chinese auto titan to snap up British car design talent.

China FAW Group Corp., the carmaker that developed the Red Flag limousine for Chairman Mao Zedong six decades ago, last year hired Giles Taylor to lead its auto design team. Taylor helped create vehicles such as the Phantom VIII and the Cullinan SUV for Rolls-Royce.

Geely’s UK studio will expand to include 100 designers and support staff within the next five years and provide backup in-house design for its brands that include Proton and Lotus. Li is also the biggest shareholder of Mercedes Benz-maker, Daimler AG.