New boss confident Qoros can last the distance

Updated 2016-11-21 14:52:41 China Daily

Chinese automaker Qoros has charted out a two-step roadmap to become "powerful and profitable", a goal it has been pursuing since its establishment in 2007.

Leon Liu, who joined six weeks ago as the maverick company's chief operating officer, said on Nov 18 it will see "positive cash flow" within a year.

"I am not ignoring its problems. I have noticed that it is confronted with grim challenges but it also has great opportunities," said Liu, a Chinese American who started his decades-long automotive career at Ford Motor.

Liu said he has been watching Qoros from the very start of its existence and had once been interviewed as one of the candidates for its CEO.

Qoros, a joint venture between China's Chery Auto and Israel's Kenon Holdings, plans to become a first-class Chinese automotive brand.

Its first model, the Qoros 3 compact car, was the first China-built model to receive a five-star rating under European new car safety standards.

However, its products were not as well received as expected due to several reasons, including a smaller sales network and price tags similar to those of international brands like Volkswagen.

Qoros sales in the first 10 months of this year grew 70 percent year-on-year, but it did not say how many cars it has sold. Sales in 2015 totaled 14,000 units, a drop in the ocean of China's 21 million-unit passenger car market.

Kenon Holdings' financial statements show that Qoros lost 890 million yuan (9 million) in the first half of 2016.

"Indeed, Qoros has made wrong turns on its development roads, but lessons learnt are also experience," Liu said.

Liu is planning to increase the current sales network of 106 dealerships to more than 200 in 2017 and to launch at least one model a year so that dealers can attract more customers.

"Qoros never lacks great ideas but it lacks leadership and execution, and I would like to offer some help with my experience at global companies," said Liu, who was a senior executive at spare-parts giant Wabco before joining Qoros.

Liu's work experience and connections in the spare-parts sector will also help Qoros to achieve a better bargaining position in talks with suppliers and to cut the costs of its products that have discouraged many Chinese customers.

In addition to solving the urgent task of supporting itself, Qoros is making hay in research and development for its second-phase goal of becoming a lasting player in the market.

It is showing a QamFree engine at the auto show in Guangzhou. The engine, the latest result of its cooperation with FreeValve, which was established by race-carmaker Koenigsegg, can cut fuel consumption by 15 percent.

Its electric concept car, Qoros 3 QLECTRIQ EV, also shown at the auto show, can travel 350 kilometers on one charge.

The production model will start running off the assembly line in 2017.

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