Chinese firm BAIC to revive old Mercedes platform for new vehicles
Upcoming sedan and SUV to use old E-Class partsby Ciprian Florea, on
Chinese company BAIC Motor Group will recycle an old Mercedes-Benz platform to develop new cars. According to a media report, BAIC received approval from partner Daimler to use a previous E-Class architecture for a brand-new car, which is said to hit the domestic market in 2018 as a midsize sedan. BAIC will also launch SUV and MPV models using the same platform.
There’s no word as to which E-Class platform BAIC is planning to use, but the upcoming vehicles are likely to use parts from the W212 architecture, which was recently discontinued to make way for the new, W213-generation E-Class. On the other hand, Automotive News says, citing Beijing-based website Internet Info Agency, that the upcoming sedan and SUV will be sold under BAIC’s Senova brand, while the MPV will get a Weiwang badge. The former is a brand that BAIC launched in 2012, while the latter is a subsidiary that builds vans.
The report also adds that BAIC is also borrowing two gasoline engines and a transmission from Mercedes-Benz. Units will include a turbocharged, 1.8-liter four-pot and a naturally aspirated, 3.0-liter V-6, while the gearbox will be a six-speed automatic. Both engines were offered with the previous-generation E-Class.
Established in 1958, BAIC (Beijing Automotive Industry Holding) is a state-owned company that operates passenger vehicle and truck joint-ventures with Daimler. It is among the most-productive Chinese automakers, making more than two million vehicles per year. The group includes BAIC Motor (passenger cars and vans), BAW (light off-road vehicles, trucks, and military vehicles), and Foton Motor (trucks, buses, and agricultural machinery). It has joint-ventures with both Daimler and Hyundai.
Continue reading for the full story.
Why it matters
It may seem odd to use older platforms to roll out new cars, but this isn’t unheard of, especially in China. FAW Group has produced a series of cars using the previous Mazda6 plaform, while Dongfeng Motor developed a flagship sedan on the Citroen C5’s underpinnings. Also, several cars that are no longer sold in Europe or North America are still being sold and updated in China, including Volkswagens and Fords.
However, China isn’t the only market known for these practices. The United States has quite the successful example, with the Chrysler Group (now FCA) having used old Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class parts in the LX platform to great effect over the years. Introduced in 2005, the architecture is still being used in the Chrysler 300 and was used for four years in the Dodge Charger. It also underpinned the Chrysler 300 wagon and Dodge Magnum before those models were discontinued. The platform was revised in 2011 for the Charger (LD) and shortened in 2008 for the Challenger (LC and than updated to the LA). Both the Charger and Challenger are still being produced with platforms based on the LX.
All told, older platforms can form a recipe for success, and given that Mercedes-Benz usually creates the most innovative products, the previous E-Class architecture might be fresh for quite a few years with the proper upgrades.
Source: Automotive News