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Frankfurt show: Borgward mulls Australian assault

Hey girl: The Isabella concept previews a coupe-like sedan model that Borgward is considering for production.

Reborn brand Borgward details global expansion that could include Australia

Borgward logo15 Sep 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON in FRANKFURT

THE chief executive of reborn German premium marque Borgward, Ulrich Walker, says the company’s sights are set on a global expansion in the coming years – and Australia is one of the countries under consideration.

Resurrected by Chinese backer Foton in 2008, the German brand was active from 1929 to 1961 before unveiling its first new model in more than 50 years – the BX7 SUV – at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show.

Borgward currently builds and sells its expanding SUV line-up in China, but its headquarters is in Stuttgart – the home base for Porsche and Mercedes-Benz – and it is planning to build a factory in its spiritual home of Bremen in north-west Germany that is scheduled to start production in 2019.

Speaking with GoAuto at the Frankfurt motor show this week, Borgward CEO Ulrich Walker said the longer-term plan involved an expansion that could include Australia.

“We are looking to each country, of course,” Mr Walker said. “There is no country excluded. Also we are looking to Australia, however we are prioritising depending on the market size and depending on the SUV market. So we are looking at the moment in all of the different countries and then we prioritise the countries.”

Borgward would likely be positioned as a premium player in Australia to take on the other Germans Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, rather than rivalling more mainstream brands including Chinese SUV specialist Haval.

Mr Walker said its short-term plan was to expand beyond China into other parts of the world, starting with Europe.

As GoAuto reported earlier this week, Borgward announced in Frankfurt that it would re-enter European market, starting with Germany, later this year with the BX7, before adding the BX5 and still-to-be-produced coupe-like BX6 SUV.

“Borgward history-wise is a German. The heritage is in Germany. We started that first and this is part of our strategy in China because it is the biggest market to create the volume,” Mr Walker said. “We already started in selected markets and next year we start in Bahrain, the Middle East. As well as in South America, Latin America.

“And with a limited edition we also start in Europe at the end of this year.

This is already scheduled. Then step-by-step we will go global.

“But we do it step-by-step because otherwise if the speed is too high, then the quality is not good, also the quality of the service and so on.”

Borgward revealed the fully electric Isabella sedan concept at this week’s Frankfurt motor show, resurrecting a nameplate from the 1950s and previewing a possible future production model.

The concept’s bold design differs significantly from the BX-series SUVs, but Mr Walker said it was not the company’s plan to introduce more radical designs to its portfolio.

“No, this is at least not our intention. Of course, you need a futuristic design concept, a modern concept, but it makes no sense to just be bold. We stay within the Borgward and the German design DNA philosophy.”

Mr Walker added that there were plans to expand the model line-up in the coming years.

“Currently we have the BX7, BX5. Soon we will get the BX6, a smaller SUV the BX3 is also under development. And then this platform (Isabella concept) will be the basis also for the (passenger) cars and MPVs. So we try step-by-step to fill out the product portfolio by each segment.”

He said Borgward would not push into more niche segments like its German counterparts have in recent years, but said it is looking at the coupe-like sedan design of the Isabella concept and MPV models as well.

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