Leonardo Fioravanti goes to Beijing Automotive Group to find a brand identity

Article by Christian A., on June 18, 2012

The ‘lack of brand identity’ is what Leonardo Fioravanti will need to work on as the recently appointed Chief Design Officer of Beijing Automotive Group. Fioravanti, 74 years old, had designed the Ferrari Daytona and 288 GTO. He now oversees the task of transforming the automaker into a global premium car brand. Beijing Automotive Group had started off in the industry as a producer of sidecar motorcycles for the Korean War.

Last April, the company got Fioravanti as a consultant, giving him the title of Chief Design Officer. At the recent Beijing auto show, the company introduced a prototype luxury sedan. Fioravanti said that by 2025, the company will be producing "world-class" cars. Fioravanti began his career with Pininfarina, the design studio that created the Ferrari 458 Italia and Maserati GranCabrio convertible.

He said that Chinese automakers share the problem of getting their own identity and styling language. Fioravanti believes that whoever achieves this first would be the winner. Foreign automakers’ slice in the market share in China is widening, with General Motors and Volkswagen Group leading the pack.

Beijing Auto is one of several Chinese carmakers that have hired star designers who could help polish their brands and reverse a widening gap in market share led by General Motors and Volkswagen Group. Meanwhile, the domestic automakers have made progress when it comes to reliability and safety and are now focusing on their branding.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said that during the first five months of 2012, the Chinese brands experienced a decline in the sedan and compact-car sales from 31.4% a year ago to 27.5%. There are no homegrown Chinese brands in the top 10 passenger-vehicle models by sales this year.

But as the market matures, Chinese automakers’ stakes are growing and they are competing for market share to edge out several brands. Last month, the average passenger-vehicle prices dropped by the most on a month-on-month basis since June 2010, as dealerships cut prices to cut an excess of unsold automobiles that carmakers are pushing into showrooms. [source: Autonews]

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