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Chery's executive designer James Hope
Chery eyes Berlin for first European design studio
Automotive News Europe | 2017/9/15

Chery Automobile plans to open its first European design studio as the Chinese automaker targets Europe with a new range of electrified vehicles.

The company has Berlin on the shortlist of potential sites, said Chery's executive designer James Hope, who will lead the automaker¡¯s design operations in the region.

It is the second time Chery has asked Hope to expand its design capabilities. The former General Motors and Ford executive was hired away from GM in 2012 to set up Chery¡¯s design center in Shanghai.

"I'm very excited to be tasked with setting up Chery design center in Europe," Hope told Automotive News Europe. "After setting up Shanghai, it's a new challenge."

Chery introduced the M31T at the Frankfurt auto show this week. The near-production concept previews a compact crossover that will lead the automaker's entry into the European market in the coming years, Chery said. It's the first in a family of models that Chery intends to sell in European markets across multiple segments. The new lineup will include hybrid-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles and EVs.

Hope will play a key role in the automaker¡¯s European plans because his main objective is to build up the state-owned company¡¯s global presence. "We are the No. 1 international Chinese OEM exporter, and part of the strategic business plan is to establish an international level studio to bring Chery design to the next level," he said.

Since joining Chery five years ago, Hope has held several key positions, including serving as executive director of the 90-person Shanghai design center in 2015 until moving to Germany last month to start his current job.

Former GM and Ford executive Steve Eum has taken over Hope¡¯s previous position in Shanghai. Both will report to Chery¡¯s head of product development, Raymond Bierzynski.

Since 2012, Chery¡¯s design team has added a number of experienced executives, including former GM Europe and Mercedes-Benz designer Sergio Loureiro da Silva, who joined from Opel in 2012 and has been Chery¡¯s head of interior design since 2014, and former Porsche and Ford designer Hakan Saracoglu, who leads advanced design.

Besides developing its own vehicles, Chery also operates joint ventures with Jaguar Land Rover and Israel Corp. in China.

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