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Geely takes aim at Haval with new SUVs

Geely whiz: Independent Chinese motor vehicle manufacturer Geely Auto’s new Bo Yue SUV gets a six-speed automatic transmission developed by Melbourne-based DSI.

Aussie engineers play a part in Geely’s plans to scale China’s massive SUV segment


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10 Mar 2016

CHINESE motor company Geely Auto will be putting its faith in some Australian engineering know-how when it launches its rival to Haval’s market-dominating H6 SUV in the world’s biggest motor market later this month.

The mid-sized Geely Bo Yue – Chinese for ‘amply win’ – will switch gears courtesy of a six-speed automatic transmission engineered and calibrated by Melbourne-based DSI (Drivetrain Systems International) – a wholly owned subsidiary of Geely since 2009.

It will also ride on a suspension believed to have been tuned by Australian independent engineering house Premcar, which previously worked its magic on the chassis of Geely’s 2016 China Car of the Year winner, the GC9 (Bo Rui) flagship large sedan.

Previously dubbed NL-3, the Mazda CX-5-sized Geely Bo Yue SUV was frequently seen running around Victoria in disguised form over the past couple of years as local engineers finessed the five-door wagon ahead of its Chinese showrooms debut on March 26.

It is one of two all-new Geely SUVs set to debut in the first quarter of this year, with Geely recently revealing that it will wheel out a smaller urban crossover wagon, the Geely Emgrand GS, at the upcoming Beijing motor show.

Designed by a team led by former Volvo and Ford designer Peter Horbury and incorporating technologies by another of its subsidiaries, Volvo, the Emgrand GS is likely to bump heads in China with Haval’s entry-level H2.

While the H2 and other Haval SUVs are already on sale in Australia, there are no immediate plans to launch the Emgrand GS or Bo Yue in Australia where Geely has retreated for now after putting a toe in the water in Western Australia with cars such as the small EC7.

Geely says the Bo Yue will be exported, but probably initially only to left-hand-drive markets such as the Middle East.

The new SUVs will play a big role in Geely’s plans to ride the SUV wave in China where the independent car-maker aims to sell 600,000 SUVs and passenger cars this year – 90,000 more than 2015’s company-record 510,000 units.

Last year, car-makers sold 6.2 million SUVs in China, up a massive 52 per cent on 2014. Of those, half were served up by Chinese brands, led by Haval and Changan.

The Geely Bo Yue’s dimensions – 4519 long, 1831mm wide and 1694mm tall, with a 2670mm wheelbase – place it smack in the middle of the mass-selling medium SUV segment, in both China and globally.

It features the distinctive multi-ringed Geely grille that is said to represent spreading ripples on a pond.

It will get a choice of petrol engines, led by a turbocharged 1.8-litre direct-injection four-cylinder banging out 135kW of power and 285Nm of torque.

This will be mated with the DSI six-speed auto or a six-speed manual.

A 104kW 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine will also be available, but only with a five-speed manual gearbox. All-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive versions will be available at launch, while a hybrid powertrain is also said to be in the pipeline.

Photographs of the interior published in China reveal a sophisticated dashboard with all-digital instruments that look like they have come straight from Gothenburg, Sweden, where Geely has design and engineering operations in association with Volvo. Ditto the steering wheel.

Buttons on the console indicate eco and sport driving modes, as well as 4WD lock, hill-hold and hill descent control functions.

Automatic climate control is available on upper specifications, along with an electric parking brake.

Meanwhile, Geely’s GC9, or Bo Rui in Chinese, has started 2016 in a ding-dong sales battle with another car with an Australian development link, the Ford Taurus.

The Chinese-built Ford large car – designed and engineered by Ford Asia Pacific’s vehicle development team in Australia – achieved 5557 sales in January, only to be pipped by the Geely GC9’s 6001 sales.

Last November, the GC9 became the first all-Chinese car to win the China Car of the Year award, beating out the Mercedes S-Class Maybach and Jaguar XE.

The award is made by a panel of 22 Chinese journalists and executives of motoring publications.

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