Special Coverage

Frankfurt Auto Show

FRANKFURT – HSO Motors Europe S.a.r.l., the Luxembourg-based distributor of Shenyang Brilliance Jinbei Automobile Co. Ltd. passenger cars in Europe, again has delayed the introduction of the Chinese auto maker’s BS4 and BS6 sedans.

Brilliance engineers are changing 65 body parts in an effort to improve the cars’ scores in the EuroNCAP crash test.

The Chinese auto maker says at this week’s international auto show here that with the changes the BS6 should earn three stars in an official test.

Brilliance worked with IDIADA Automotive Technology SA in Tarragona, Spain, to learn from an official crash test three months ago how to improve results from the one star (of five) it recently achieved.

“As soon as Brilliance puts the new parts in series production, we will take the car back to EuroNCAP,” says Hans-Ulrich Sachs, managing partner of HSO.

Homologation to European standards also is under way, and at a meeting on the eve of the auto show, executives from Brilliance promise to speed up the work.

HSO said at the Geneva auto show in March sales would begin this fall, and the delays have been “very costly,” says Sachs. However, the upside is that with no further delays Brilliance will have four cars for sale in Europe by the end of next year.

In addition to the BS4 and BS6, these include the BC3 coupe that has been previously shown and the BS2 5-door hatchback presented as a pre-production model here.

The BS2, as with the other sedans, was designed with the aid of the IdEA Institute of Italy. It is not yet in series production in China, where it is known by the codename A1.

HSO says among the 65 redesigned components, pillars have been reinforced, door sills strengthened and parts of the floorpan, roof pillar and roof skin changed.

Seatbelt load limiters have been added, as well as an audible reminder for passengers to fasten their belts, which helps the EuroNCAP score. Similar improvements will be made in all Brilliance models.

The biggest homologation challenge, says Sachs, is designing the front end to meet European Union rules for pedestrian impact, as well as protecting passengers in a collision.

In addition to the expected arrival of cars next summer, HSO also is hoping Brilliance can deliver two self-developed common-rail diesel engines: a 1.6L and 1.9L.

Diesels power about half of all new cars in Europe. The company’s gasoline engines are sourced from Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

The BS2 hatch will compete against popular small cars such as the Volkswagen Golf and Toyota Yaris. The car is 14.1 ft. (4.3 m) long, 5.7 ft. (1.8 m) wide and 4.8 ft (1.5 m) high. It will be powered by a 1.6L 108-hp gasoline engine or the 1.6L diesel being developed by Brilliance.

Sachs, who began importing Hyundai-brand cars to Germany in 1990, says, “If we have the diesel,” HSO could sell as many as 30,000 units in Germany in 2009, which is how well the Hyundai did in its first full year.

He adds that Brilliance’s technology is closer to the market average in Europe now than Hyundai was in 1990, and “we can close the gap more quickly.”