Roewe is a vehicle marque created by the Chinese automaker SAIC Motor in 2006. Roewe vehicles were initially based on technology acquired from defunct British carmaker MG Rover. SAIC was unable to purchase the rights to the Rover brand name and created the Roewe marque as a replacement.
The name Roewe originates from SAIC's failure to acquire the Rover marque from BMW c. 2005 (it was instead sold to Ford in 2006, and the brand is currently owned by Tata Motors). Composed of the Chinese characters Róng and wēi, which roughly mean "glorious power", the name is a transliteration of Rover, although SAIC has stated that it is derived from Löwe, the German word for lion. Loewe, pronounced much like Roewe by Chinese speakers, is also the name of a Spanish manufacturer of luxury leather goods.
SAIC purchased technology relating to the Rover 75 and Rover 25 after the 2005 collapse of MG Rover, and the Roewe marque first appeared on a version of the 75, the Roewe 750. Originally intending to purchase all assets of the failed British company, SAIC was outbid by Nanjing Automobile. In 2007 SAIC merged with Nanjing Auto, so it now controls those MG Rover properties, such as the MG name and a Birmingham factory, the Longbridge plant, that it was initially unable to acquire.
English engineering firm Ricardo assisted the development of early Roewe models and set up a new company in the UK, Ricardo (2010) Consultants Ltd, which helped bring the 750 to market. According to SAIC, work on the vehicle was also done in China. In 2007 Ricardo (2010) Consultants was purchased by SAIC and renamed SAIC Motor UK Technical Centre. It employs over 200 British ex-Rover engineers.
The Roewe 950 is a B-plus class executive saloon and the flagship model of the Roewe range. It was launched in April 2012 and is based on the long wheel base version of General Motors' Epsilon II platform, which it shares with the Buick Lacrosse. The 950 was developed over a three year period at a cost of around 1.8 billion yuan.
The Roewe 850 is the license-built Chinese version of the SsangYong Chairman full-size luxury vehicle.
The Roewe 750, launched in October 2006, is a revised version of the Rover 75 with the wheelbase stretched by 103 millimetres (4.1 in) and a re-worked rear end. The drivetrain is a 2.5 litre V6 petrol unit based on the Rover KV6 engine, and the gearbox is a completely new 5-speed automatic. Later, a 1.8T (turbo) petrol engine based on the Rover K-series, delivering around 150 bhp (112 kW; 152 PS) was introduced.
The 550 was developed by an Anglo-Chinese collaboration between the British consultancy firm Ricardo 2010 and SAIC's in-house development team. Underneath, the 550 is based on a shortened Rover 75 platform and features a development of BMW's Z-axle system also used in the 75.
Using a powerplant based on the Rover K series engine, options include 1.6 litre and 1.8 litre naturally aspirated or turbocharged petrol and 2.0 litre diesel engines. The 1.8 litre turbo (named "Kavachi" after a submarine volcano in the South Pacific) delivers around 150 bhp (112 kW; 152 PS), while the 2.0 litre diesel, complying with Euro IV emissions regulations, provides similar levels of power. A hybrid version was shown at the 2010 Beijing Autoshow.
The Roewe 550 is sold as the MG 550 in Peru and Chile, but most export markets will only receive the sportier MG 6 derivative. Chinese-built MG 6 models for the UK market undergo final assembly at the MG Longbridge plant as of April 2011. Production will stay small at no more than 3,000 units per year.
The Roewe 350 is based on the Roewe N1 concept car of 2009. The production version was publicly launched at the Beijing Auto Show in 2010 with a SAIC-developed 1.5 L engine. The engine produces 107 hp (80 kW), but currently only meets Euro 4 emissions standards. The 350 is produced at a former Nanjing Automobile production base in Pukou, China. It is sold as the MG 350 in Israel, Peru, Colombia and Chile. SAIC revealed an all-electric version of the Roewe 350 powered by lithium-ion batteries in late 2010.
The Roewe E50 all-electric supermini was unveiled at the 2012 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition as a concept car. In November 2012, SAIC introduced the production version of the E50 for the Chinese market with sales commencing in 2013.
A total of 155,336 Roewe vehicles were sold in China in 2013, making it the 29th largest-selling car brand in the country in that year (and the 13th largest-selling Chinese brand).
Outside of China Roewe-derived models are currently sold under the MG marque.
In 2008, the Roewe 550 and 750 were launched in Chile under the names MG 550 and MG 750, respectively. The smaller MG 350 and sporty MG 6 were displayed at the eleventh Santiago Motor Show in October 2010.
European sales first began in Belarus, with an MG-badged version of the 550. British car magazine Autocar tested the Roewe 350 in 2010 and it was suggested that the model would be built and sold in the UK, but Roewe denied this. Nonetheless, as of April 2011 SAIC's MG6 (a reworked Roewe 550) commenced assembly at the old MG Rover plant in Longbridge. The European market cars feature certain improvements over its Chinese siblings, meeting Euro V rather than Euro IV emissions standards.
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