BAIC taking aim at the Germans with C90L luxury sedan

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Beijing Auto (BAIC) unveiled a slew of new concepts in this year’s Beijing Auto Show. Most of them look pretty close to production, and ready to ride on BAIC’s M-Trix platform adapted from the Saab 9-3 and 9-5 platforms acquired by Beijing Auto.

However, one of them was different. The large 5.2m executive sedan C90L, eyes the profitable and growing luxury segment in China. This segment has long been dominated by German brands, and very few local brands even attempted to make an incursion into it.

bjc90 06t BAIC taking aim at the Germans with C90L luxury sedan

BAIC seems to be eager to take a stab at it with the C90L, which had renderings leaked prior to the Auto Show as the C80K. It reportedly will sport a V12 engine.

The C90L is one of the first results of Beijing’s move to hire Leonardo Fioravanti to lead their design team. He is an Italian designer who worked for Pininfarina for 24 years and is now CEO of his own design firm, Fioravanti S.r.l.

bjc90 09t BAIC taking aim at the Germans with C90L luxury sedan

bjc90 15t BAIC taking aim at the Germans with C90L luxury sedan

There is no word on what BAIC’s joint-venture partner Mercedes-Benz thinks of all this. But interestingly enough, BAIC told the press a few weeks ago they would produce a sedan named the C90, which would use an old Mercedes E-class platform.

Could this eventually use the same platform? We might find out later next year, which is when Beijing said this will be coming out.

About the author  ⁄ Nathan Y

Nathan, also known as "Analyst" is a Chinese car enthusiast who has been following the development of the Chinese car industry since 2005.


  • I _ H a t e _ C h i n a
    May 2, 2012

    @ Nathan Y

    JV models were bound to fail because the JV partners were being run by corrupt communist party officials who was in it to enrich themselves and their political careers, not having any auto ambitions. This is why FAW, SAIC, and BAIC leadership weren’t really interested in taking risks to build world-class Chinese brands.

    China’s privately owned companies with ambitious CEOs face the hurdle of raising capitals, the skepticism of Chinese consumers who won’t give them a chance on anything that cost more than 100,000 Yuan, and in the case of BYD, a political persecution from the communist party.

    So what’s gonna change? Nothing. The Chinese domestic auto market will top out at 25 million a year max due to traffic congestion and fuel price issues. Foreigners will continue to hold 3/4th of Chinese domestic market, and Chinese brand automakers continue to lose ground to foreign brands as those Chinese consumers who can afford better quality cars to upgrade to foreign brand models.

  • Nathan Y Author
    May 2, 2012

    For the most part, I agree with you.

    But 3/4 is a bit of an exaggeration, it’s actually closer to a little below 70% last time I checked.

    And even then, 25% of 25 million cars would mean 6.3 million cars. That will probably be larger than the world’s 4th largest market.

  • MannyZ
    May 4, 2012

    Nice to know that someone decided what is forign design and what is not.

  • I _ H a t e _ C h i n a
    May 4, 2012

    @ MannyZ

    The better terms would be “External Design” and “Internal Design”, since a Hyundai design at Hyundai’s California studio is as much a Hyundai design as Seoul Studio’s output.

  • CarsAroundTheWorld
    May 5, 2012

    Probably not, though before you know it, if they the Koreans are any indication, it will happen, and the Germans will be worrying.

  • CarsAroundTheWorld
    May 5, 2012

    I agree, good show, my lad for reminding the IHC Korean of Hyundai’s and Kia’s humble roots.

  • CarsAroundTheWorld
    May 5, 2012

    True most companies in China are far to lazy ass to do their own work in cars, but somebody as to tell them to stop en-roaching on Cape Verdean land! If they keep doing it, I am going to have to go to Cape Verde and give the Chinese Food (nickname) a piece of my mind!!

  • I _ H a t e _ C h i n a
    May 6, 2012

    @ CarsAroundTheWorld

    > if they the Koreans are any indication, it will happen

    Just because Koreans did something before doesn’t mean Chinese too could. These are totally different cultures and different market/business conditions.

  • boogiemeow
    May 6, 2012

    Looks like a Maybach but cheaper!

  • JD
    May 13, 2012

    Be nice to wipe the contemptuous grin of most PRCers, the arrogance is smelly. This car is pathetic. Only the PRC could cause an Italian to generate this ugly garbage.

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