Borgward - Say goodbye (again) quietly Servus!

We live in a time of change. The old goes or is gone. New things are coming, but not every plan works. There was the Borgward story, which had several Saab cross connections. In the center of the action was a certain Karlheinz L. Knöss. A former Saab press officer who was considered to be very busy during his active Saab time. Probably the biggest coup of his life, however, came in the Saab phase.

Borgward BX7 - design by Einar Hareide
Borgward BX7 - design by Einar Hareide

With a Borgward grandson he secured the fallow rights of the Bremen car brand and sold them to the Chinese Foton group. However he sparked the craze for a dead car brand in China, it was a masterpiece. It is not known how many millions Foton let the dream of a German brand cost. It will by no means have been cheap.

Saab Press Officer, Saab Designer, Saab Motors

The comeback got off to a promising start in 2015. Einar Hareide, who drew the 900 II and the 9-5 I, among other things, was hired as one of the designers. Borgward presented itself as a German brand and wanted to buy the huge former IBM campus in Stuttgart for the headquarters. An assembly plant at the former location in Bremen was also being planned, and the Senate was eager to secure free space.

But then everything turned out very differently. The Borgward BX7 turned out to be a Senova X65, an SUV with Saab genes from the BAIC Group, to which the Foton Group belonged. Based on the Saab 9-3 II platform, further developed under the name “Matrix” by BAIC and with Swedish help. The revelation came first here on the blog, it took a while for the motor press to pick up the topic.

Borgward BX5 and BX6 - mostly conservative
Borgward BX5 and BX6 - mostly conservative

The German fake profile

Borgward tried to take countermeasures, published a reply in a forum that ignored the facts. The story began to crack and became more and more bizarre. The insistence on being a German company became grotesque over time. It culminated in an image film that only showed European-looking people producing a Borgward SUV in a Chinese Foton plant.

The film quickly disappeared from the Borgward side and the brand went downhill steeply. The start in China was off to a good start, around 5.000 Borgward were sold per month. But the consumers recognized the sham packaging. The cars were acceptable, but just a staid infusion of well-known products. The rhombus was no longer fascinating, the resurrection began to fail. The peak was reached with 6.000 vehicles a month, then the numbers went into free fall.

Isabella Concept by Anders Warming
Isabella Concept by Anders Warming

With UCAR into the abyss

Foton quickly lost interest in adventure. In July 2019, the UCAR sales platform took over the majority of Borgward. They wanted to set up a franchise distribution all over the country, but the plans failed. 54.000 vehicles were sold in 2019, only 8.740 in the following year. Most of the vehicles remained within the UCAR group as internal company cars.

UCAR has now announced that it wants to pull the emergency brake. It is true that sales are well-mannered in some small export markets. But at Borgward you can't even dream of the 800.000 vehicles worldwide that they wanted to sell in 2020. The German ambitions are history, the property in Bremen was never paid for, the former IBM campus never became the headquarters of the resurrected brand.

After the end in 1961, the next bankruptcy is due in July 2021. There are no interested parties for the brand, writes the Pandaily. Time has simply passed over Borgward. Everything changes, many plans fail. Also from other big brands. The stars of the past no longer pull, maybe a decade earlier you would have had chances. Maybe you should have shown more courage. Instead of just an average SUV, a car like the Isabella Concept from Anders Warming should be offered.

Whatever. The story seems to have come to an end, it is time to say hello. New stars are in the sky, they go by the names NIO, Xpeng or Li Auto.

Who is still asking about Borgward?

With images from Borgward

7 thoughts on "Borgward - Say goodbye (again) quietly Servus!"

  • blank

    You have to read the story twice and think about it three times ...

    That's really delicious. Even when they were really, really good, Borgward hardly sold any cars. For example, only 2400 copies of the Hansa 1399 rolled off the line. Off the tape?

    That was only a good 200 cars a year (production from 1952 to 1958). These were more or less one-off pieces with a high level of manual work in production.

    Incidentally, the Hansa 743 was also built as a beautiful hatchback for three years and a total of 2400 copies. But they are already included in the 1399.

    Karlheinz L. Knöss and the Borgward grandson have excellently ripped off the Chinese investors and lured them onto the wrong track, if they really paid a lot and believed that they would have bought a ticket to the world market with this brand name ...

    This is a first-rate hussar piece. But I don't mean to say anything against Borgward. They went technically exciting ways. The first German air suspension in series and, and, and ...

    But that doesn't change anything. The bottom line is that a grandson and Knöss are the winners. Really funny and amusing ...

    On the flip side, it says that lesson has been learned. Evergrande acts completely differently for a reason. China prefers to write history itself than to be sold by Western press officers. Then the cars are called Hengchi. I can even understand that ...

    The exciting question is whether and who else in politics and business understands this and what consequences are drawn from it? Knöss understood and recognized and used a favorable moment that was historically unique. You could easily dedicate an entire book to him and this hussar piece ...

    In retrospect it would teach us a great deal about the current situation and historians would quote it many times. It is not unlikely that brand names will no longer have any value in the future, but will become arbitrary or newly created and positively occupied with new content - also and especially in China, the largest market in the world….

    Again, this story is truly unique. We readers are contemporary witnesses.

  • blank

    Borgward was just dead too long. That's it. In addition, the cars were mostly average. The Bremen version of Ford and Opel and now unknown outside of Germany.

    It's different with Saab. Very young people like the brand and I keep talking about Saab - amazing. Nevertheless, I would be extremely skeptical here too if there were to be a comeback. The time is just over and the tragic ending is (as Tom would write) part of the Swedish Saab saga.

  • blank

    Borgward is well known to me, from stories but also because I did some research in this regard. Borgward himself was a brilliant inventor, unfortunately a lousy businessman, and was ahead of the times in many ways. But unfortunately the production of the cars was too expensive, the money was missing and big business figures were against Borgward. The death was sealed. Unfortunately! (Extreme short version).
    But to be honest, I'm happy that the Chinese have fallen on the nose with it. Not because I am a mean person, but because it pisses me off that someone thinks they buy a name and have to burn up for mediocre cars. I very much hope that something like this does not happen with the name Saab!

  • blank

    ... well, I first had to read the article + comments from 2015. Well, nothing speaks against a solid base like an old SAAB chassis, but you have to be honest with it and not hide it. Marketing then failed.

    But that you destroyed Tom's Borgward plans… .tsss 😉

    • blank

      Ha ha ha, that's good. Shame on Tom 😉

      Although I don't think it's a shame about this strange attempt. As the old Swede already wrote, the historical awareness was not far off ...

      A Borgward 2.0 should have followed the tradition of engineers and designers who seek and find their own technical solutions out of conviction. The umpteenth infusion of foreign tea bags will not successfully reactivate a single British, German or Swedish brand in the future either ...

    • blank

      So far I wasn't aware of any guilt 😉

  • blank

    Borgward had long been known to hardly anyone here in Germany either!
    (well - I do, because I come very roughly from the corner ... and possibly some older people who still know / appreciate the "original" cars personally {or were Dieter Thomas Heck fans / are})

    But I could never understand that a Chinese had just pounced on this brand.
    Completely unknown worldwide and for many people to pronounce it “weird”….

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