Chinese carmaker Geely is preparing to deliver passenger cars to the UK starting with the Emgrand EC7 four-door saloon and five-door hatchback, which are expected by the end of 2012. The UK will be the first major Western European country to receive them.
Geely International Corporation will become the distributor of the vehicles in the UK with the set up of a new company called Geely Auto UK. The move follows a new distribution agreement with Manganese Bronze Holdings, which includes the sale of Geely cars, the set up of a dealer network in the UK, as well the supply of parts and aftersales services.
John Russell, Manganese Bronze Holding’s CEO, said: “We are all aware of the success that the Korean brands, Kia and Hyundai have had in the UK, and we can work with Geely to achieve similar success in the future.”
Manganese and Geely are already partners in assembling London black cabs in Coventry under subsidiary The London Taxi Company (LTI). Geely Auto UK headquarters will be based in the same offices in Coventry that LTI occupies and will share the same back office functions.
Geely Auto UK has plans to expand the range of cars imported according to the company’s market development director, Matthew Cheyne, who is heading the team responsible for the sales, marketing, dealer development and distribution of Geely vehicles in the UK.
“Geely has a comprehensive range of models well suited to European requirements,” he said. “We will be aiming to widen our range just as quickly as possible, probably at least a new model range every year for the next four to five years.” 
Cheyne went on to say that the cars would be suitable for Europe and will meet European Union homologation, as well as whole vehicle type approval and Euro 5 emissions requirement. 
 “My initial task is to establish a UK dealer network, probably 30 to 40 strong, ready for the brand’s launch,” explained Cheyne. “The recruitment process has started and we are looking at small independent-owned businesses that know their customers and traditionally give excellent customer service.  We will also consider such sales and service outlets as former Rover dealers, sharing dealer sites with other franchises as well as smaller regional groups.”
Cheyne told Automotive Logistics that Geely Auto UK is currently involved in meeting service providers and will go into a final selection process for tender in the new year. A final decision on its chosen partner for logistics services is expected to be made in the second quarter of 2012.
"The launch of the vehicle is planned for the end of 2012 and, whilst volume is obviously important, the focus at the moment is to ensure that the whole scope of the business, from hologation to aftersales, is functioning correctly," he added. "Therefore, only 1,000 units are planned for the first year whilst we check that all processes are performing as planned."
However, he went on to say that the company's intention is to increase this to just under 10,000 units within three years, an increase that will be assisted by the introduction of other models to the EC7.
Geely Auto UK’s distribution will remain separate from the Geely’s Volvo operations.