Geely Design China vice president Guy Burgoyne (left) showing Malaysian journalists a Geely prototype at a media tour in Shanghai.
SHANGHAI: The Geely Group has four research and development centres in China, Sweden and the United Kingdom, as well as four design centers in Shanghai, Gothenburg, Barcelona and California.
Presently, there are over 400 designers from 19 countries led by chief designer Peter Horbury, working at Geely Auto’s design centres.
To recap, in June 2017, the group struck a deal with DRB-Hicom Bhd under which the latter will acquire a 49.9 per cent stake in national automaker Proton Holdings Bhd for RM460.3mil.
Geely’s popular Boyue sports utility vehicle (SUV) is expected to be used as a base for Proton’s first-ever SUV model.
Also, Zhejiang Geely will be paying 100mil pound sterling (RM540mil) to Proton for a 51 per cent stake in British sports car maker Lotus.
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Technology tour in Shanghai and Ningbo
Recently, the Geely Group held a familiarisation trip for a group of Malaysian media to its facilities in Shanghai and Hangzhou.
At Geely Design in Pudong District, Shanghai, we found it curious that the complex was also shared by Chery Automobile and Qoros Auto.
"It's all right. Yes, visitors might find it strange but our facilities are separate although we have do have lunch in the same places," said Geely Design China vice president Guy Burgoyne.
We were not allowed to take photos, but we saw full-size clay replicas of car protoyptes being milled and also concepts like a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) that had its global debut at the Shanghai Auto show 2017.
"This is the fullest, most busy studio I have ever worked in. We have 200 people in the studio every day. I have developed and designed more models in the last 5 years here than my whole career elsewhere," said Burgoyne, who worked for Volvo Cars from 1995 to 2005.
We also observed a concept coupe SUV, with a distinct European design flavour, which Burgoyne said might be a year away from a potential launch.
"The concept coupe SUV is an ego car, with a prominent bonnet featuring the Geely logo surrounded by expanding cosmos rings," he said.
Burgoyne also explained that the Geely logo is actually based on six-pack abs, and was the result of a global design contest in 2007 where the prize money was 3.6 million renminbi.
The following day, we were bussed 150km away to the Geely Automobile Research Institute (GRI) in Ningbo, where we visited powertrain laboratories, noise control facilities and vehicle testing facilities.
Powertrain testing and calibration equipment are supplied by German specialist AVL.
All 68 test cells at the centre are monitored by a central control room.
A senior engineer showed us a car mounted on a five-motor performance test cell, which can simulate various road conditions.
"We can do 60 per cent of vehicle calibration off-wheel. This means we don't have to drive the car on the road to test it. Benefits include significant reduction in vehicle development time and costs," he said.
Another facility was a climate control room, where vehicles are tested under extreme conditions.
Here, temperatures can reach a bone-freezing minus 40 degrees Celsius or even up to a scorching 60 degrees Celsius.
Journalists were also shown pads and rigs for vibrating test equipment on which, cars are put through durability testing.
We also visited acoustic test chambers designed by noise control experts from Germany's Faist.
"Currently, we have 8,000 engineers working here," said GRI president Hu Zhengnan.