On March 26th 2019, Geely celebrated the third launch anniversary of its flagship SUV, the Geely Bo Yue (Emgrand X7 internationally). In addition to having reach a record total sale of over 700,000 units, one might wonder, what else has this SUV achieve in three short years to warrant an anniversary celebration? One word…
The Bo Yue has progressively evolved since its launch in 2016 thanks to constant consumer feedback and upgrades to the product, and it may have not yet reached its final form. In early 2018, it was given a facelift with slight changes to its exterior, but most importantly, the 2018 Bo Yue debuted Geely’s game-changing Global Key User Interface or GKUI to the world.
On the global stage, it was launched in Russia around mid-2018 as the Geely Atlas and is being produced at Geely’s new factory in Belarus. Towards late 2018, one of Geely’s recent acquisitions, Malaysian national car maker PROTON, launched its own version of the Bo Yue with aesthetic changes that reflect on the country’s rich heritage and culture. Known as the Proton X70, the SUV is the first in a long line of vehicles from Geely that will help revive the Malaysian brand and take it beyond its own domestic borders.
To celebrate these amazing feats, let’s look back at how the Bo Yue was first created.
Naturally, it takes an icon to create an icon. The Bo Yue was conceptualized by Peter Horbury, Geely’s seasoned Senior Vice President of Design, together with his team at the Geely Design Centre in Shanghai. Their mantra was to introduce beautiful vehicles that instill pride in its owners and revolutionise the way Chinese-made cars are perceived, one vehicle at a time. By focusing on design this way, cars from the Geely stable are becoming best-sellers in their respective domestic segments. For the Bo Yue particularly, the emphasis was to create a vehicle that is inherently tough and bold, yet with a graceful look that fits seamlessly into the Geely brand character.
The car also has to match the expectations its target customers. The Bo Yue must be fit well with this group of young professionals who are not only interested in aesthetics and quality, but also in one of the most important aspects of the 21st century; connectivity. The car has to represent an extension of their unwaveringly unique persona, whilst ensuring they are connected, safe and secured.
Once the design philosophy is infused with the needs of its target, the remaining piece that drives the team further in achieving exceptionality is the name. When translated into English, Bo Yue means Leaping Excellence, referring to its capability to leap ahead of its competition and push Geely into the forefront of the SUV market. On that note, it has indeed achieved its mandate.
In order to streamline and ensure a consistent design theme is applied to all Geely models, Geely Design has decided during its initiation stage that all future cars will be based on the family of cats and the Bo Yue is no different. Its surface is sculpted with the same dynamic lines, inspired by the muscular power of a leopard in motion and its gracefulness while at rest.
As often stated by Peter Horbury, Geely designs its cars with a global perspective but with slight hints of Chinese cultural elements. It does not necessarily imply that a pagoda needs to be on the roof, he would jokingly say. These added elements give each car a sense of national pride and allow the designers to explore China’s rich heritage of art, history and culture, helping them to further define the car’s look and feel. For the Bo Yue, the classic Chinese bridge was incorporated into the dashboard design, sweeping across the interior and arching over the centre air vents. The central infotainment panel on the other hand is greatly inspired by the terraced fields of South Western China. Furthermore, the centre grab handles look like its smoothly-drawn with a Chinese calligraphy brush.
When the SUV was launched in Malaysia, the team at PROTON Design has to take on the task of ‘localising’ it. The Proton X70 has a brand-new grille, swapping Geely’s ‘expanding cosmos’ with a shape that is inspired by a bow, one of the weapons used by the indigenous tribes of East Malaysia. The insert on the grille also received a unique local touch, featuring the ‘infinite weave’, an interlocking pattern that can often be seen in Malaysian craftsmanship like the batik and wood carvings. This pattern is then applied in the interior, on the speaker grilles specifically, replacing the terraced fields of South Western China mentioned earlier.
In spite of it being conceived and sold mostly in China, the Bo Yue undoubtedly has global aspirations. During its epic endurance tour in 2018, the SUV was driven for about 18,000 kms from its Baoji factory in China, all across Russia, Germany and France, before reaching its final destination in the United Kingdom. Earlier this year, it functioned as the support car for the Geely team at the Dakar rally, crossing the difficult and treacherous terrains of South America
The Bo Yue has evidently come far since its birth. Other models may do with just a simple facelift or minor change, but the Bo Yue has been constantly improved upon and adapted to suit the ever-changing preferences of a new breed of consumers and to enter new territories. For now, let’s just say, we have not yet seen the end of this icon.