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Changan opens new European Designing Center in Turin

Wed, 05 Dec 2012 00:00:00 -0800

Changan celebrated the opening of its European Designing Center in Turin, Italy, last week as part of its celebration of the historic company's 150th anniversary.

An audience of VIP guests and press were given grand tour of the new facility located in Rivoli near Turin after an opening ceremony filled with the pomp and pageantry we've come to expect from the Chinese car industry.

The new 11,000 square meter European Designing Center is Changan's latest move to grow its business globally, having already established research and development centers at five Chinese locations as well as in Detroit USA, Nottingham UK, and Yokohama Japan.

"We wanted to establish this studio in Turin because it is a beautiful and unique place," Changan's vice president Liu Bo told Car Design News. "It also has a lot of design centers and resources."

Despite the scale and size of the new studio this is not a sign of Changan's intention to begin a full-scale expansion into Europe, Bo says. The carmaker's plan is to work globally without getting too region specific.

Vice design director Chen Zheng confirms this, saying, "We want to take the best aspects of everywhere. With this design center we want to increase our design capabilities so we can make a product that combines a good exterior, a good interior and good service.

"With this combination we can create a vehicle that attracts and moves our customers."

With a staff of more than 100 the studio has spaces for packaging design, creative design, CAS, modeling in clay and epowood as well as post-processing modeling – the entire development process.

The size and scale of the new studio implies it will be the centerpiece of Changan's presence outside of China, with Zheng stating that his aim is to grow and improve the studio.

"We might open others but at the moment we're focused on doing well here and making this a strong area for Changan," he explained.

The Chinese studios will be heavily involved with all development stages, with conference calls being made every day between the relevant departments across shared technology systems and IT platforms.

Zheng says, "The same basic rules will apply for all of our studios. We will have a 'Bible' setting out our procedures."

Changan isn't the only Chinese carmaker with a presence in the area. State-owned JAC Motors has also had a research and development center in Turin although Zheng insists that this isn't the reason for the establishing of the new center.

"This didn't have an effect on us," says Zheng. "Already we have collaborated with Bertone and the IED (Instituto Europeo di Design) and we have around 60 people here. JAC have 30."

"We have a good relationship with JAC and we will have a good future together," he adds.

With projects still running in the previous building – "it's just an office" – the changeover is ongoing but the management is confident that it will be complete by the end of the year.

By Rufus Thompson