Chinese automaker Geely hires former Bentley design chief

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BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese automaker Geely has hired Stefan Sielaff, the former design chief of British luxury brand Bentley, as Chinese automakers increasingly look to new styles to boost sales on the largest automotive market in the world.

Sielaff, who has also worked for Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG, will be based in Gothenburg, Sweden and lead the design of national brands Geely, Zeekr, Lynk & Co and Geometry, the company said in a statement.

It will not manage the design of its Volvo and Polestar brands.

Chinese automakers have historically rolled out models that looked like foreign brands. But as sales increased, many – including Geely, Great Wall, and BYD – established their own studios, usually run by international designers, to create new designs.

Hangzhou-based Geely, which owns Volvo Cars and a 9.7% stake in Daimler, has turned to sportier designs to raise car prices. Sales of rival Changan have surged this year thanks to its more futuristic designs, while Great Wall’s off-road sport utility vehicles are also popular.

The increased attention comes as automotive design becomes more and more difficult, with the shift to electric cars and smarter driving systems that include more exterior sensors.

Chinese giant Didi Global Inc recently hired Matthew Swann, previously at Tata Motors and Great Wall, to lead the exterior design of its vehicles. Baidu Jidu hired former Cadillac designer Frank Wu.

(Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh; editing by Richard Pullin)


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