Chinese automaker Geely Automobile (0175) has hired Stefan Sielaff, the former design chief of British luxury brand Bentley, as China’s manufacturers increasingly turn to new styles to boost sales in the world’s biggest car market.
Sielaff, who also worked for Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG, will be based in Sweden’s Gothenburg and lead design the domestic Geely, Zeekr, Lynk & Co, and Geometry brands, the company said in a statement.He will not manage design for its Volvo and Polestar brands.
Chinese car companies historically rolled out models that looked similar to foreign brands. But as sales increased, many – including Geely, Great Wall Motor Company (2333), and BYD (1211) – built up their own studios, usually led by international designers, to create fresh designs.
Hangzhou-based Geely, which owns Volvo Cars and a 9.7 percent stake in Daimler, has turned to more sporty designs to boost car prices. Sales at rival Changan jumped this year thanks to its more futuristic designs, while Great Wall’s off-road sports utility vehicles are also popular.
The increased focus comes as the auto design is becoming more challenging, with the move to electric cars and smarter driving systems that include more exterior sensors.
Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Global recently hired Matthew Swann, previously with Tata Motors and Great Wall, to lead the exterior design of its vehicles.
Baidu (9888) Jidu hired ex-Cadillac designer Frank Wu.
Geely sales volume falls 22 percent
Chinese automaker Geely Automobile (0175) said its sales volume in August fell 22 percent to 88,348 cars, a decrease of 11 percent compared to the previous month.
Of the total sales volume in August, 8,201 units were new energy and electrified vehicles, up 24 percent from the same period last year, according to an exchange filing.
The total sales volume in the first eight months was 817,860 units, up 9 percent from an earlier year, achieving 53 percent of the company’s annual target of 1,530,000 units.