Chery Automobile has appointed Hakan Saracoglu as chief of its design center in Shanghai. The appointment is part of the carmaker’s effort to improve its styling. Saracoglu will lead a team of 30 people to create new concepts models for Chery, from sports utility vehicles to sedans. Although Chery is known for the popular QQ mini car, Saracoglu said that the Chinese carmaker is not about QQ.
He said that Chery is redefining itself to stand for value, for design and gaining customer confidence. Chery currently operates a joint venture to produce Jaguar Land Rover in China. The carmaker also co-owns startup Qoros Auto Co. with Israel Corp. Saracoglu’s career started at Ford Motor Co., where he was part of a team in charge of the Focus and Mondeo.
His most recent employment prior to Chery was in Porsche, where for around 15 years, he helped in designing the exteriors of models like the 918 Spyder, Boxster and Cayman. He joined Chery as design director in October 2013.
Chery is the latest among carmakers in China that are hiring foreign designers to boost their brand image as well as stifle a market share loss to overseas carmaker like General Motors Co. and Volkswagen. In 2012, Beijing Automotive Group Co. hired former Ferrari Daytona designer Leonardo Fioravanti as chief design officer.
In 2011, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. hired former Volvo Car chief designer Peter Horbury as senior vice president in charge of design. In the same year, Great Wall Motor Co. hired former Mercedes-Benz designer Andreas Deufel as design director. Bill Russo, president of auto consultancy Synergistic, remarked that while having somebody with a known profile gives a carmaker more credibility, it would take a long time to embed those capabilities.