Returning German luxury brand Borgward, absent for 54-years but relaunched in Geneva this week, will use the Frankfurt motor show in September to premiere the first model in what it says will become a large scale-line up.
Expect this first vehicle to be a mid-sized luxury SUV (what else?) with the option of a plug-in electric (PHEV) drivetrain, styled by former Saab design director Einar Hareide.
The company will then reveal another two or three models each year beginning in Geneva next March until it honours a “commitment to deliver a complete model range” of “accessible premium” vehicles. By 2020 it wants to sell 800,000 cars annually. For context, Skoda delivered jut over a million in 2014.
The company made these announcements this week at the Geneva motor show on a mid-sized stand near the Volkswagen Group, with a pristine example of the famed Isabella coupe of the 1950s (pictured above) the centrepiece.
The company is promising advanced ‘e-mobility’ and on-board telematics systems, edgy design with elegance and attitude, and a global digital sales network, meaning it might look to sell online. It will base its vehicles on shared modular architectures to cut costs and speed up the rollout.
According to the revived brand, it will focus on its German home market at first, as well as “emerging markets” — headed by China — where it is cheaper to build its cars. Its global headquarters encompassing R&D, design, engineering and marketing, will be based in Stuttgart. It might set up factories there too.
Neither of these things point to right-hand drive production at first.
Borgward in its pomp employed 23,000 people in Bremen, and in its day produced more than a million cars. During the 1950s it was apparently the third largest auto manufacturer in Germany and claims to be a pioneer of the “accessible premium” sedan.
The group’s line-up also included small and medium-sized cars, as well as light and heavy-duty commercial vehicles.
The venture is headed by former Daimler executive Karlheinz L. Knöss and involves Christian Borgward, grandson of company founder Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Borgward. The groundwork to the Geneva news took more than a decade.
What is less clear is where Borgward’s money is coming from. Reports indicate the investment is coming from a partnership with Chinese firms including commercial vehicle giant Foton, though it’s being closely guarded. It would make sense for an emerging brand to leverage a known badge — albeit a dusty one — like Geely does with Volvo.
Naturally, Borgward is keeping most details under wraps until Frankfurt, but it has talked up its intention to electrify its vehicles. It uses the term ‘electric power-assisted’, meaning PHEV. The company confirmed it is working on a “state-of-the-art e-mobility system”, details of which will emerge in the coming months.
The first car will also have a telematics system the company calls Multiple Interaction. The Borgward will, in the company’s words, “become your personal assistant, companion, entertainer, information provider, and caretaker – wherever you are”.
“When I first began discussing the idea with Christian Borgward, we kept asking ourselves the same question, ‘What would have happened if Borgward had endured?”’ said Knöss.
“Borgward is a German premium brand. This German heritage – values such as quality, reliability, elegance, innovation, intelligence – and our unique tradition provide a solid platform for building a successful future.
“As a designer, constructor, and businessman, Carl F. W. Borgward left behind a remarkable life’s work. Borgward was one of only two manufacturers in Germany offering a range of products spanning the entire road vehicle portfolio.
“Borgward was always looking beyond the immediate horizon from a cosmopolitan perspective. Its success was fuelled by an international orientation and innovation. Borgward’s strategic alignment for the future is built on the same foundations.”