A while back I wrote about the Lloyd car developed in Germany firstly before and after the First World War and then during the 1950s. Carl Borgward had bought the company during the 1920s and made Lloyd, Hansa-Lloyd, Hansa-Borgward and Borgward cars. The company ceased operating around 1961 after some creditors forced it into liquidation claiming the company was trading insolvent, Borgward insisted it was OK. When the company was finally wound up, there was money left over that proved that Carl Borgward was right.
Despite the collapse of the parent company, there were manufacturing plants in Argentina and Mexico that continued for a while. Argentina continued until all the kits were completed and the original tooling was sold to Mexico where cars were produced until the early 1970s.
Now Borgward has come back – like many forgotten brands of the golden age of motoring. Carl Borgward’s grandson, Christian, has re-energised the company with new prototypes launched at the Geneva Motor Show in 2015. The cars are soon to be put into production, over a decade after the vision was created.
BX7 and BX7 TS
These models are designed to attract the luxury SUV buyers and like many relaunched brands are hybrid powered. For the BX7, it has a plugin hybrid power plant with a small internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Combined power is around 250hp.
The BX7 is a seven seater in the vein of Audi and Volvo in fact I think it looks remarkably like both! The TS (Touring Sport) version is the sporty one and takes it’s name from the 1950s cars. The only criticism so far is that the designs are too close to their competitors. The shape of the grille can be seen on possibly 5 other brands today – Audi, Hyundai/Kia and Ford to name four!
BX5 and BX6 TS
Like their German neighbours, Borgward is looking to expand into several segments of the overall SUV market. The BX5 is a smaller (5 seater) version of the BX7 and the BX6 TS is the full strength sports model. Both use the same power plant as the BX7 although the BX6 TS is the most powerful with a combined 420hp from its hybrid power. The BX6 TS is reminiscent of the BMW X6 and looks like it performs a similar duty!
To me the BX5 is an Audi Q5 competitor and looks very similar and the BX6 TS clearly has design elements from the BMW X6.
There is clearly investment behind the company as they are attracting top talent from other European manufacturers. They have recently poached a marketing director whose reputation includes relaunching a Swedish brand (a well known competitor!) and a designer with experience designing vehicles for European and Korean manufacturers.
The company is certainly using it’s heritage to build a market awareness prior to the official launch of the production models which I think is a great idea.
The marketing is showcasing the technological advances the original company made during the 1950s and this dovetails nicely into the hybrid drivetrains that have been developed to power the new cars. They believe that their technology is ground breaking and this will need to be pushed if they are going to dent a very crowded market because this is where Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Jaguar, Land/Range Rover, Volvo and several Japanese and Korean manufacturers fight for position. I have probably missed several manufacturers in that list because I think it is the most crowded segment for premium buyers today.
Subsequently, it will be a battle to engage cashed up buyers who are brand conscious and want a badge from one of their German rivals. I think Borgward buyers will be evaluating the Jaguar F-Pace, Volvo XC and high spec Korean models. They will be looking for buyers who want to explore options and not be swayed by fashion.
Deep down, I think Borgward will be looking to take market share from BMW. There is some history between the companies: when the original company was liquidated by the creditors, the Chairman appointed to the Borgward supervisory board, who quickly closed the business down, was also a board member at BMW! Clearly this was a huge conflict of interest because that could have been seen as a contributing factor to a resurgence at BMW in the same market segments that Borgward had success in. There are conspiracy theories abound on this subject!
I have always felt that BMW, Audi and Mercedes make too many overlapping models and having more competitors may make them rationalise their model ranges if they lose sales to a new, more technically advanced, entrant. However, it is more likely that the big 3 Germans will price a low volume competitor out of the market. I sincerely hope that Borgward have success with these new cars and with future models. It will be good for the consumers, market dynamics and technological evolutions!