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Roewe: A homegrown brand with brilliant origin
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2007-01-12 15:21

By Li Zhiguo


Three months ago, the brand of Roewe did not exist at all. Two months ago, the brand of Roewe began to appear on media. During the 2006 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, which was hold over a month ago, all people began to talk about Roewe cars. And now, such a brand has become a symbol that SAIC Motor Corporation Limited (SAIC Motor) initiates its self-owned brand.


Roewe was born not long ago, but cars with a self-owned brand of SAIC Motor were initiated quite long ago. The process for SAIC Motor to set up its self-owned brand is just a miniature of the development of China's automobile industry.


When talking about SAIC Motor's development of cars with its self-owned brands, Hu Maoyuan, Chairman of SAIC Motor, said that SAIC Motor's construction of self-owned brands was conducted on basis of a substantial accumulation.


Such a line reminds people of the history. The reporter found out the following records on yellow pages: on September 28, 1958, Shanghai Automobile Assembly Plant successfully trial-manufactured the first Phoenix car and thus making the zero car breakthrough in Shanghai's automobile industry; in 1964, Phoenix cars were renamed as Shanghai cars and there shaped up an annual production volume of 5,000 sets by 1975.


On November 25, 1991, SAIC Motor began the process of introducing and digesting advanced technologies from abroad. On that afternoon, the workshops of Shanghai Saloon Car Plant were razed to the ground in an explosion after the last Shanghai car was manufactured so as to concentrate all efforts on developing Santana cars and boost the construction of the Shanghai Volkswagen Project (Phase II). A place with an area of 170,000 square meters was thus vacated and transferred to a joint venture with Volkswagen. Since then, Shanghai cars have become a dream that all staff of SAIC Motor recollected ever and again and a dream to establish a self-owned brand.


Hu Maoyuan has a clear understanding of joint venturing and cooperation and he expressed repeatedly that as SAIC Motor had obtained experiences from its joint venturing together with Volkswagen on basis of its joint venturing during 20 years while having obtained experiences from its joint venturing together with General Motors during about 10 years, SAIC Motor was not indiscriminately imitating others but digesting other enterprises' experiences. He said that whoever would have some tricks up his sleeve when he shares his experiences and skills with others, so China had to get equipped with the core competitiveness if it was to become strong in terms of automobile production; as SAIC Motor was confident in its capacity to digest and absorb its experiences substantially, it would have a comparatively high start-line when it set on to develop self-owned brands.


On basis of such a confidence, SAIC Motor began its cooperation with Rover so as to continue to advance on the road that it had once chosen earlier to establish its self-own brand.


On September 19, 2006, Ford announced that it exerted its preemption right to acquire the Rover brand so as to protect the LandRover trademark. Ford's action smashed SAIC Motor's original assumption.


The brand of Rover was established in 1904; but Rover ran into difficulties in terms of its production and operations after 100 years and it just seized less than 1 percent of shares in the European market in 2003. Then, Rover tried to shake off the plight by seeking for cooperative partners worldwide. In 1994, BMW purchased Rover at a price of £800 million; in the spring of 2000, the former Rover was divided into three parts with the business of Rover cars and MG roadsters sold to individual investors in Great Britain, the business of LandRover off-road vehicles sold to Ford, and only the business of MINI mini-vehicles kept for BMW itself. By then, Ford, the buyer of the LandRover business, required buying the Rover trademark but then BMW had no intention to sell that trademark. Therefore, both parties signed an "Agreement on Trademark Coexistence" that prescribed that when BMW had the intention to sell the Rover trademark, Ford would enjoy a preemption right.


In face of Rover selling itself separately, SAIC Motor was actually in a situation of being examined from the beginning of its participation into the purchase. In December 2004, SAIC Motor paid £67 million to purchase the intellectual property rights of Rover's core technologies, including Rover's 1.1L ~2.5L series of motors and the Type 75 and Type 25 platforms for core technologies but excluding the Rover brand. It means that if SAIC Motor cannot purchase the Rover brand, it has to establish an automobile brand so as to explore the market at home and abroad even if it has owned the intellectual property rights of Rover.

 

Ford just exerted its preemption right at such a critical moment. When talking about that, Hu Maoyuan was very quiet, "SAIC Motor wanted to buy the Rover brand because Rover's sales volume of 100,000 to 150,000 sets in the markets in Europe and Americas can be comparatively propitious to our export. As Ford enjoys a 90-day preemption right to buy the Rover brand, the fact that Ford proposed to exert such a right on the eightieth day has also helped to make us more determined to establish the Roewe brand. As one should be determined, we are to increase our input and establish a completely self-owned and internationalized brand from a high start-line."


Within a month after Ford announced to exert its preemption right to purchase the Rover brand, SAIC Motor formally announced that its self-owned brand was named as Roewe. Then, the 2006 China International Industrial Expo and the 2006 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition went upon the stage.


Why is the brand named as Roewe?  According to Hu Maoyuan, the meaning of Roewe is to innovate laurel and express the whole world in an impressive manner, namely, "establishing classics with innovations".


Then, what are the innovations on Roewe cars? Wang Xiaoqiu, General Manager of SAIC Motor Manufacturing Co, said that Roewe had integrated 14 high-end technologies for European luxury cars, took the lead in terms of sculpt among domestic automobiles of the same category and kept pace with Audi and BMW in terms of technological configuration. It is actually over two years from brewing the Roewe 750 to present. A working group has already begun to cooperate with Rover on remodeling, designing and development since SAIC Motor held negotiations with Rover in 2004.


Hu Maoyuan introduced that SAIC Motor planed to produce 2 million sets of various automobiles by 2010, including 600,000 sets of complete vehicles with a self-owned brand.


Hu believed that it was absolutely possible for SAIC Motor to make good use of resources in the world to establish our internationally famous brands. Such a kind of innovative conception is not to simply follow the example of others, and SAIC Motor will step onto a road of discrepancy.


There are altogether 200 engineers, including 150 European engineers and 50 Chinese engineers in Ricardo 2010, SAIC Motor's overseas R&D Center. 80 percent of those European engineers are all elite engineers selected out of the R&D staff of MG Rover. If it can be said that the establishment of a self-owned brand for automobiles is like a long distance running event like Marathon, then what SAIC Motor is to do is not only to run fast but also to run each step well.


Memorabilia for Roewe cars


In December 1955, Shanghai Internal Combustion Engine Components Company was founded.


In March 1958, Shanghai Internal Combustion Engine Components Company and Shanghai Powertrain Equipment Manufacturing Company got incorporated into Shanghai Powertrain Machinery Manufacturing Company.


In January 1960, Shanghai Powertrain Machinery Manufacturing Company was renamed as Shanghai Agricultural Machinery Manufacturing Company.


In April 1969, Shanghai Agricultural Machinery Manufacturing Company was renamed as Shanghai Tractor Industry Company.


In July 1984, Shanghai Automobile & Tractor Company was set up.


In March 1985, Shanghai Volkswagen Automotive Co., Ltd. was established.


In March 1990, Shanghai Automobile & Tractor Company was renamed as Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation.


In September 1995, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (Group) was set up.


In June 1997, Shanghai General Motors Co., Ltd. was set up.


In December 2004, SAIC Motor Corporation Limited was founded.


In May 2004, SAIC Motor set up its project team on self-owned brands.


In December 2004, SAIC Motor paid £67 million to purchase the intellectual property rights of Rover's core technologies.


On February 15, 2006, SAIC Motor's self-owned brand project was ratified by the National Development and Reform Commission.


On February 22, 2006, SAIC Motor Manufacturing Co. was set up.


On October 12, 2006, SAIC Motor formally announced that its self-owned brand was named as Roewe and the new automobiles will be developed with the Rover 75 platform that SAIC Motor had purchased.


On October 24, 2006, Roewe 750, SAIC Motor's first middle- and high-end car with a self-owned brand appeared publicly and it is expected that Roewe 750 cars will be distributed across the country at the end of 2006 or at the beginning of 2007.

Source:CE.cn 
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