BEIJING – Brilliance-Jinbei launched its Zhonghua 1.8T-engined sedans at a press conference that started, fittingly, at 10:18 am on March 18 at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
The company has thus become the first Chinese domestic maker to launch vehicles powered by its own in-house developed turbocharged engines.
Just as when the company launched its new Zhonghua Splendor – exactly a year ago to the day, and in the same location – the new 1.8T-engined models’ surprisingly affordable prices led to applause from the crowd. The new Grandeur 1.8T is available in five trim levels, ranging from ¥135,800 to ¥199,800 ($17,410 – $25,615), while the Splendor’s four trims start at ¥125,800 and go to ¥157,800 for the top model. The new cars also feature slightly modified exterior and interior restyling as well as new equipment on the options list, such as heated front and rear seats and in-car refrigerator.
At these price levels, the Splendor 1.8T sedan is about ¥30,000-¥50,000 cheaper than its only 1.8T-engined competitor – FAW-VW’s Sagitar, which just had a ¥20,000 price cut earlier in the month, and now retails between ¥177,800 and ¥189,800.
“Today’s launch of the Zhonghua sedans equipped with China’s first independently-developed turbocharged engine is a historic moment,” said Liu Zhigang, president of Brilliance-Jinbei. “The Brilliance 1.8T (BL18T) engine is the result of Brilliance’s “three highs” development strategy of high-level independent innovation, high technological leap and high quality independent branding.”
The all-alloy BL18T, developed with help from Germany’s FEV, features numerous advanced engine technologies, such as VVT and gasoline direct injection (GDI) that provides for a high specific power output within a modest size, along with improved emissions and fuel economy. The engine produces about the same power and torque as normally-aspirated 2.4L-2.5L engines but consumes 30 percent less fuel.
“The launch of the new Zhonghua 1.8T sedans is a generous gift to China and its consumers. It has been Brilliance Auto’s dream to produce a high-level, high-quality and fully independent mid- to luxury-car,” said Qi Yumin, chairman of both Brilliance-Jinbei and its parent company Brilliance Auto Group.
Qi was referring to the fact that existing Zhonghua Grandeur and Splendor models have until now used Mitsubishi engines sourced from a local engine JV and that his company is ready to make its vehicles fully independent, with the new independently-designed engine as the missing piece of the puzzle.
Qi used the press conference as the occasion to announce the so-called “Brilliance Auto Independence Manifesto”, which focused on his company’s development efforts, development strategy, management philosophy, operational strategy and competence in establishing first-class R&D, operations and management teams.
Brilliance-Jinbei officially began production of the 1.8T engine on June 26, 2006 at its ¥1.13 billion engine plant. The plant has four fully-automatic assembly and processing lines and 90 percent of the equipment has been bought in from overseas. Current annual capacity of 50,000 units is set to double to 100,000 units by 2010.
Brilliance-Jinbei plans to sell 25,000 Zhonghua 1.8T sedans this year as part of its goal of selling 130,000 Zhonghua cars in 2007. Sales targets for the 1.8T sedans in 2008 and 2009 are 50,000 and 100,000 units, respectively.
Brilliance Auto has set a sales target of 300,000 vehicles (including 30,000 BMWs by BMW Brilliance and 135,000 Haise light vans and trucks), which Qi is very confident the company will achieve.
“If we do’t I’ll quit my job!” said Qi.
Qi offered the exact same words early last year when he set a vehicle sales target of 200,000 units; his company ended up selling over 210,000 vehicles.
|Model||Splendor 1.8T||Grandeur 1.8T|
|L x W x H (mm)||4,648 x 1,800 x 1,450||4,800 x 1,800 x 1,450|
|Max power (kW/rpm)||125 / 5,500||125 / 5,500|
|Max torque (Nm/rpm)||235 / 2,000-4,500||235 / 2,000-4,500|
|Transmission||6MT / 4AT (ZF)||6MT / 4AT (ZF)|
|Emissions||Euro IV||Euro IV|
|Fuel consumption (L/100km)||6.5 (MT) / 7.1 (AT)||6.5 (MT) / 7.1 (AT)|