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Shanghai show: Geely gears up six-seat MPV concept

2020 vision: Geely hopes the MPV will help achieve its sales goal of at least two million vehicles annually by 2020 – which would see the brand enter the top 10 globally.

Possible Australian influence from DSI for production version of Geely MPV


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21 Apr 2017

GEELY is yet to confirm it, but there may be some Aussie flair behind the MPV concept that the Chinese brand took the covers off at the Shanghai motor show this week.

Shaping up as the evolution of the Emgrand EV8 that never made it to market, Geely is signalling its entrant into the hotly contested and ever-popular people-mover segment in China.

Recent changes to the nation’s One Child policy mean larger families are becoming more commonplace, which is contributing to the attractiveness of the Chinese people-mover market.

MPV sales in China totalled 2.4 million last year – representing an increase of 14.7 per cent over the 2015 mark – with forecasts indicating that up to 3.5 million units will be sold in 2020.

However, a production version of the MPV may have some Australian influence if the heavily camouflaged test car that was recently spotted in Dandenong, Victoria is anything to go by.

Previously speculated by GoAuto to be an Opel Zafira Tourer-based Buick GL6, it is possible the engineering mule was in fact the forthcoming Geely MPV undergoing transmission calibration by Drive Systems International (DSI).

DSI – a wholly owned subsidiary of Geely since 2009 – is located on Centre Road, Springvale, which is a mere 10 kilometres from the Dandenong Bypass where the development vehicle was spied.

A second set of Chinese spy shots – which have been released since our first report – appear to share the same floating greenhouse as the local images and the Shanghai concept, as well as a distinctive angular glass section forward of the A-pillar.

Furthermore, near-identical camouflage cladding is another similarity between the Australian and Chinese engineering mules that seem to make them an exact match.

Reports out of China suggest that the MPV will feature a seven-speed wet dual-clutch automatic transmission when it goes on sale next year, which is said to be a product of in-house research and development (R&D).

As transmission experts, DSI have likely been given the responsibility to produce the unit for the MPV – which would differentiate the people-mover from most of its competitors that continue to employ traditional torque-converter autos.

Manufacturing of DSI-engineered transmissions takes place in three Geely-owned Chinese factories, while R&D work is still conducted in Australia.

An international team, led by Volvo vice-president of design Peter Horbury, was responsible for designing the six-seat MPV, which incorporates elements of global fashion and draws inspiration from private aircrafts.

The grille resembles the ripple effect caused when a droplet impacts a body of water, while the headlights stretch around the corner and are complimented by a series of ‘dimples’.

Meanwhile, the A-, B- and C-pillars are all blacked-out to create the appearance of a floating roofline. The rest of the side profile is a creased but smooth affair with other highlights including 20-inch alloy wheels and rear suicide doors.

Dimples feature again at the rear, linking up towards the thin, horizontal tail-lights which complete the concept’s exterior styling with chrome treatments.

Inside, the seating layout is 2+2+2 which allows the installation of captain’s chairs for the rear seats. A panoramic sunroof stretches across the roofline so that it can be enjoyed by passengers across all three rows.

A large-size, high-definition LCD display replaces the usual driver’s binnacle as an acknowledgement from Geely towards the era of the internet.

In its journey from concept car to production model, the MPV is expected to tone down some of these design flourishes, but the overall look and feel is likely to remain.

According to Geely, input from consumers into the pros and cons of the people-mover, as well as their requirements, were gathered as part of the research into improving the final product.

This would not mark the first time that Geely has put development vehicles through their paces Down Under as the Bo Yue mid-size SUV was spotted across Melbourne several times before it went on-sale overseas in March last year.

Australian independent engineering house Premcar – which is based in Campbellfield – was also believed to be involved in the tuning of the Bo Yue’s suspension, in addition to DSI’s input into the high-rider’s transmission calibration.

Geely Automobile Group is currently working towards its ‘2020 strategy’, which involves achieving an annual production and sales goal of two million units – including its Volvo and Lynk & Co brands – by 2020.

Last year, Geely recorded group sales of 765,900 units globally – an increase of 50 per cent over its 2015 result – while the car-maker has sold 278,600 units in the first quarter of 2017 – a 94 per cent improvement over the first three months of 2016.

Such rapid growth could see Geely become a top 10 manufacturer in terms of global volume by the turn of the decade. A new model in the people-mover segment may help boost its fortunes.

The Geely MPV is expected to go into production during 2018 as a China-only model, with official details to be unveiled closer to its launch date.

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