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Chinese car maker Chery has appointed a former Porsche designer to oversee its future vehicle styling direction as it attempts to boost its image and credibility over the coming years.

Industry journal Automotive News reports that Hakan Saracoglu, a key figure in the exterior design of the Porsche 918 Spyder, Boxster and Cayman, and who also worked for Ford on the Focus and Mondeo, will lead a team of 30 at the Shanghai-based Chery design centre in coming up with new concepts for vehicles ranging from sedans to SUVs.

Forty-seven year-old Saracoglu, who worked at Porsche for 15 years, is keen to help Chery expand out from its low-cost heritage.

“The company is redefining itself,” Saracoglu said.

“Chery is standing for value, for design and gaining customer confidence. That’s where we want to go.”

Chery J1 and J11

Chery is not only involved in a joint venture with Tata Motors’ Jaguar Land Rover to produce models in China, it also co-owns the new Chinese manufacturer Qoros whose executive director of design Gert Volker Hildebrand used to work for Mini, director of production Alexander Wortberg used to work for BMW, and executive director of vehicle engineering Klaus Schmidt was previously a senior manager at BMW’s M-Power division.

When asked how much of a salary increase he was offered to leave the German marque, the Turkish-born German national said, “I cannot comment on that. Let’s say I’m not unhappy.”

Saracoglu, who officially joined Chery as design director in October, has a degree in transportation design from the Art Centre College of Design in Pasadena, California.

According to the report, Saracoglu said he had never visited China before being approached by Chery.

Chery currently offers the J1, J3 and J11 models in Australia.