Chinese manufacturer Brilliance Jinbei Automobile is serious about Europe but right-hand drive for the UK, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta must wait.


The Geneva motor show saw the official European launch of the Brilliance brand, with ambitious plans to sell 75,000 cars across the continent by 2010.


The cars on display attracted considerable attention from show visitors but the UK will have to wait for the cars as right-hand drive production is not scheduled until after 2010.


In any case, European distributor HSO Motors Europe has a challenge just to meet its targets in Europe – it wants to sell 15,000 units this year alone.


“The Geneva show opens the door to Europe for Brilliance,” said Hans-Ulrich Sachs, head of HSO. “It represents a huge milestone on the journey to make Chinese cars popular in Europe.”


He may face an uphill journey. SUV maker Landwind hit headwinds in safety-conscious Germany after one of its models flunked a local crash test, though it continues to sell in developing markets and went immediately to work on improving crash-worthiness.


The first Brilliance model is the BS6, attractive and well-specified enough on first ‘showroom walk-round’.


This is a large sedan styled by Giorgio Giugiaro’s ItalDesign organisation and with ride and handling ‘optimised’ by Porsche.


It reminded just-auto of the first Hyundai Sonata in its size, pricing, specification and sector targeting and draws its engines from the same source: the two-litre, 122bhp and 2.4-litre, 130bhp petrol engines come from Mitsubishi and are Euro-IV emissions compliant.


Prices will start at around EUR20,000 – or GBP14,000.


Later this year the BS6 will be followed by the smaller BS4 mid-range saloon and a nice looking coupe called BC3.


The BS4, also penned by Giugiaro, is based on a shortened version of the BS6 platform and has a 1.8-litre Mitsubishi engine and five-speed gearbox. The engine comes in turbocharged form too, coupled to Brilliance’s own four-speed automatic gearbox.


The BC3 was styled by Pininfarina and also has a 1.8-litre turbo – but this is Brilliance’s own design, developing 170bhp. It also meets Euro IV standards. All these cars were on show at Geneva.


In a clear sign it has researched the European market, Brilliance plans to add diesel engine options for the BS6 and BS4 by the end of 2007 and future models include a compact car called BS2 and an SUV.


Brilliance has experience of building quality cars – it’s BMW’s Chinese assembler. It has invested heavily in manufacturing facilities in Shenyang and will build 200,000 vehicles this year – 20,000 of them for the German luxury automaker.


HSO Motors is currently signing up European distributors, including Belgian car supermarket operator Cardoen and France’s AsieAuto, which already distributes those Landwind SUVs through a 100-strong network of dealers.


HSO plans to handle German sales itself while Brilliance wants 700 European dealers by the end of 2008.