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May 6, 2010 12:45 PM | By John LeBlanc, MSN Autos

2010 Beijing auto show: Chinese automakers

BAIC C60 (© Photo: John LeBlanc)
  • BAIC C60 (© Photo: John LeBlanc)
  • BAIC C71EV (© Photo: John LeBlanc)
  • Chery Rely X5 (© Photo: Chery)
  • Chery Riich G6 (© Photo: Chery)
  • Chery Riich X1 (© Photo: Chery)
  • Geely Emgrand GT (© Photo: John LeBlanc)
  • Geely Emgrand GE (© Photo: John LeBlanc)
  • Geely Gleagle GS (© Photo: John LeBlanc)
Photo: John LeBlancShow Thumbnails
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Chery Automobile

Chery Riich G6 (© Photo: Chery)

You may know Chery via serial entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin. In 2005, Bricklin (the same man who created his eponymous New Brunswick-made gullwing SV-1 sports car between 1974 and '76) began working with Chery to bring cars into North America. The plan was to import five new car lines and have 250 dealers in U.S. selling 250,000 cars a year by 2007.

However, after two delays and various disagreements over finances and car design, the deal broke down. But Chery still exists. And like SAIC, it's one of Chinese largest automakers. At the Beijing show, it continued to widen its Riich and Rely brands with several new models.

Chery Rely X1 (© Photo: Chery)

Rely is Chery's people-mover and SUV brand. Chery says its new X5 (no relation to BMW's SUV) is a serious off-roader. It can be ordered in four-wheel drive with an electronic differential lock and more than seven inches of ground clearance.

The smaller X1 (again, not a BMW) is Chery brand Riich's idea of a mini-crossover for the city. Think poor man's Mini Countryman or Nissan Juke. Power comes from an 83-hp 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine.

The top-line Riich G6 sedan (not be confused with the former Pontiac sedan) is meant to take on imports like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. A 168-hp turbocharged 2.0-litre four is matched to a five-speed manumatic gearbox. The G6 also comes with luxury features uncommon-for-a-Chinese car like a navigation system, heated and cooled seats and a touchscreen DVD entertainment system.

Beijing Automobile

BAIC C71EV (© Photo: John LeBlanc)

Now, it's not uncommon for Chinese automakers to buy older tooling from out-of-date Western models and then apply a styling makeover to give them the appearance of "all-new." But Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co.'s quickie styling redo of the old Saab 9-3 and 9-5 isn't fooling anyone.

As most Saab fans know, BAIC bought the old Saab tooling for about US$200 m late last year from General Motors, after it couldn't to reach a deal to buy Saab outright from the U.S. automaker. Eventually, GM would sell Saab to Dutch supercar maker Spyker. But now after fitting new front and rear fascias, the old Saabs are known as the C60 and C71, respectively.

Although there's no mention as to what engines will be powering the reborn, regular gasoline former-Saabs, BAIC also debuted an electric version of the old 9-5, dubbed the C71EV. There's a quick-charge battery located on its floor, but aside from an estimated 140-km range, few other details were given.

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