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Beijing show: Chinese ‘Roller’ gets fresh face

Own style: Geely's new-look GE concept limousine has dispensed with most of the Rolls-Royce styling cues.

Geely backs away from Rolls-Royce clone styling with new-look limo

19 Apr 2010

CHINESE car-maker Geely has bowed to international criticism of its Rolls-Royce clone styling for its Geely GE concept, re-designing key elements of the limousine for its second coming, at the 2010 Beijing motor show opening on April 23.

Images published on Chinese websites indicate that Geely designers have softened the Phantom-like “Greek temple” grille with a more rounded, horizontal design that extends to a more aerodynamic treatment for the headlights.

While the radiator is still topped with a figurine in Roll-Royce fashion, it is less like the British brand’s “Spirit of Ecstasy flying lady” than the original concept shown at last year’s Shanghai motor show.

Audi-like LED running lights now grace the front of the car, which also gets two rear seats in place of the single throne of the Shanghai show car.

Geely’s efforts indicate a serious intent to manufacture the 5.4-metre-long luxury machine, which appears to be aimed squarely at China’s elite and not for export at this stage.

Powered by a 3.5-litre V6, the Geely GE (Geely Excellence) will benefit from an Australian-designed automatic transmission from Drive Systems International (DSI).

203 center image From top: Geely GE, original Geely GE concept, an artist's impression of the Geely TXN London taxi.

DSI – which Geely bought from bankrupt SsangYong Motor for $70 million last year after the Korean car-maker crashed in the global financial crisis – is believed to have been given the job of providing transmissions for all Geely products with an engine capacity above 1.5-litres.

GoAuto understands that an advanced eight-speed transmission is ready in the wings at DSI, although Chinese reports suggest the Geely GE’s transmission will be made in a Chinese DSI plant, not at DSI’s original Australian plant at Albury.

While Geely is set to begin exporting cars to Australia from the middle of 2010, starting with the 1.5-litre MK light car, the GE is not on the agenda announced by importer Chinese Automotive Distributors.

The GE is one of 39 vehicles to be displayed by Geely at the Beijing show, along with 14 powertrain products that almost certainly will include DSI transmissions.

The Geely products will be divided into its various sub-brands, including Emgrand, Gleagle and Englon.

Among the Englon products on display will be the TXN – Geely’s redesigned London Black Taxi.

Along with Volvo, Geely is in the process of taking control of the British company that makes the iconic taxi, Manganese Bronze Holdings PLC, shifting production from Coventry to Shanghai.

Images flashed around the internet suggest a much more rounded, modern take on the boxy, upright vehicle.

Manganese Bronze, which has built the TX series of London cabs since 1948 through its subsidiary, London Taxis International, entered a joint venture with Geely in 2006 to make its cabs in China from 2008.

However, with mounting losses – including a reported a pretax loss of £7 million ($A11.6m) in 2009 – Geely is looking to take a 51 per cent controlling interest in the company.

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