2010s / Borgward / Chinese / German / News

What exactly does the future have in store for the resurrected Borgward brand?

Last month, Borgward surprised us by announcing that it was making a comeback after spending no less than 54 years in the history books. The company had a huge booth right in the middle of the Geneva Motor Show – an event that it hadn’t attended since 1960 – but the only car on display was a stunning Isabella Coupe. However, a press kit distributed during the show gives us a better idea of what the company has in store for the next few years.

The first important fact regarding Borgward’s resurrection is that it is being orchestrated by Christian Borgward, the grandson of company founder Carl F. W. Borgward, and Karl-Heinz Knöss, an industry veteran who has held positions at both Saab and Daimler. Additionally, the comeback is at least partially funded by a Chinese automaker called Beiqi Foton Motor.

China is home to hundreds of car manufacturers – most are relatively small and we’ve even seen some set up a booth outside of major car shows (e.g. the Beijing Motor Show) because they can’t afford space indoors. Foton is not one of those; it is a fairly large company that primarily builds commercial vehicles, and it is a subsidiary of Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co., better known as BAIC. Owned by the government, BAIC’s resume includes selling a number of Saab-based models through a licensing agreement with General Motors, building off-roaders for the Chinese military and two lucrative joint-ventures called Beijing-Hyundai and Beijing-Benz, respectively. Beijing-Benz is responsible for building market-specific long-wheelbase versions of the E-Class and the C-Class. All told, BAIC is not short on cash.

Like most major Chinese automakers, BAIC dreams of expanding its operations to Europe and/or the United States. However, the agreements that BAIC has with General Motors, Mercedes and Hyundai are only valid on the local market, meaning that BAIC can’t legally ship a long-wheelbase E-Class to Seattle or Frankfurt and sell it. Additionally, it can’t sell its own cars due to a host of factors including the poor image typically associated with Chinese cars. Enter Borgward – the company is undeniably rather obscure in the big scheme of things but it’s at least well established in the history books and it’s a hell of a lot more familiar than, say, Brennabor. Foton’s investment is a win-win situation for both the Borgward family and BAIC.

Borgward is moving full-speed ahead – some sources claim that the company has been secretly testing prototypes since 2008, though we admittedly don’t believe that – and it will move to its new headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, in the next couple of months. In Stuttgart, the company’s neighbors will include Porsche and Mercedes-Benz.

The company’s plan gets more and more ambitious after that. It will introduce its first 21st century model, a Mercedes M-Class-sized SUV, at the Frankfurt Motor Show that will open its doors next fall. What platform it will ride on and where it will be built are questions that remained unanswered.

After that, Borgward will launch no less than two models every year in a bid to quickly build up a lineup of “accessible premium vehicles.” The cars will be available with electric and hybrid powertrains, as Borgward promises that it is busily developing what it calls a “state-of-the-art e-mobility system.” All of Borgward’s future models will be underpinned by a modular platform, and they will also be available with non-hybrid gasoline- and diesel-burning engines.

Former Saab design boss Einar Hareide has been enlisted to give Borgward a new design language, and deals with suppliers will help Borgward design most major mechanical and electrical components in-house. Executives told British magazine Autocar that it aims to build 800,000 cars a year (!) by 2020, and the company plans on boosting production to 1.6 million units by 2025.

Do you think Borgward can pull it off?

10 thoughts on “What exactly does the future have in store for the resurrected Borgward brand?

  1. No. For Germany I believe competition is too tough and customer expectations are too high to break into the existing market just like that. It will be hard to convince Mercedes, Audi or BMW drivers to switch over to something new, without the reputation, history and also development budgets of these established premium brands. Jaguar has all the history and strong brand, and now comes with a fantastic new design, but still has a very hard time to break into the German market. And on the mass market, it will be too tough to beat Volkswagen and to build cars to a similar high technical standard but at more competitive prices. Not very optimistic for Borgward.

    • Borgward’s business plan reminds me of Qoros. The brand launched in Geneva a few years ago with this amazing business plan, a team of renown engineers / designers (including MINI’s former head of design) and partnerships with high-brow suppliers such as Bosch and Microsoft – the whole lot backed by Chinese money.

      Qoros wanted to essentially sell budget Audis in Europe, and on paper it seemed totally doable. Fast forward a few years later and I think the only European country they managed to sell cars in is Slovakia.

      Which brings us back to your comment. Starting any business is difficult, but starting from scratch and launching a new car brand aimed at mainstream rivals like Audi and hoping to sell 800,000 of them a year a short time later is highly ambitious. The only way they can pull it off is if they team up with another established automaker.

  2. Sounds like they are gonna do some sort of rehashed SAAB/GM model with an “updated” body – recipe for cheap and nasty. China can build in volume which is good because the burgeoning Chinese market will absorb the expanded production but for now in Europe and the State no coz the quality just an’t there against that of the old guard and the relative newcomers from Korea

  3. i think it will be Borgward in name only with rest coming from China. the cars from Japan and Korea have made it and in the past people said they would not. also there are a lot of empty auto factories right now. this might be a way to become a big player in a lot less time. should be interesting to watch.

  4. This caught my eye, not because I keep up on car news, but because I saw two beautiful old Borgward’s in Bremen, Germany a few months ago and had never hear of them before. They were lovely cars. I’ll be interested to see if the new cars they produce will try to capture any of that old glamour.

  5. Pingback: Post-production: The week in review | Ran When Parked

  6. Pingback: News: Borgward introduces Frankfurt-bound BX7 crossover | Ran When Parked

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