WHEN China’s third-biggest independent car maker announced in 2004 that it planned to start selling cars in Europe within five years, Western observers fell about laughing.

But Chery was deadly serious. It contracted Pininfarina to design a new range of small, medium and large car platforms and style six different models with European tastes in mind. Chery also held talks with several Eastern European countries with a view to setting up a satellite factory to serve the Euro market.

At the time, head of engineering Xu Min told Autocar magazine: “It took the Japanese and Korean makers 10 years to establish their brands in Europe and we plan to accelerate that process.”

That was a bold statement of intent for a car maker with a range which, at the time, consisted of a Daewoo Matiz copy, a couple of saloon based on the creaky old Seat Toledo and a “luxury” saloon called the Oriental Son (I kid you not).

We all know what happened next - not a lot - but perhaps there’s still time for Mr Min’s prediction to come to pass.

Chery pitched up at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show with big plans for Europe and a firm timetable for when its vehicles will go on sale.

As part of the company’s plans its new cars will be sold under the EXEED nameplate in Europe – presumably because Chery hopes they will ‘Exeed’ all our expectations.

And the first model to go on sale across Europe, the EXEED TX, will be a compact SUV which was revealed in pre-production guise for the first time at the Frankfurt International Motor Show this week.

Chery says the all-new platform – specifically developed for the new model line and to accommodate electrified powertrains – and its technologies have been developed in partnership with European engineering partners.

In the cabin, sharp horizontal lines produce a sense of open spaciousness, while coloured LED lighting can be personalised to create the perfect ambience for occupants.

The car’s futuristic appeal is further augmented by the 10-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dash that provides access to a range of infotainment, interior and driver settings and vehicle status information menus.

The cabin incorporates the very latest smart technology. Seamless smartphone connectivity, voice recognition, built-in WiFi and Chery’s ‘E call’ emergency assistance service will be standard. A comprehensive suite of connected infotainment apps, including intelligent navigation with real-time traffic information, will be accessible through the large touchscreen display.

In addition, further high-tech innovation is evidenced by small touchscreen displays at the centre of the ventilation rotary switches.

Reflecting the car’s environmental considerations, a unique LED strip beneath the dials changes between shades of blue and red, depending on the quality of air entering the cabin from outside.

Driver convenience is provided through a range of advanced aids, including keyless go, a 360-degree round-view camera, smart opening trunk and park assist technologies. Premium interior comfort is assured by luxury heated seats, panoramic sunroof, privacy glass, and auto-change ambient lighting.

The car can be personalised for regular drivers, with the ambient lighting, infotainment settings and driver seat positions memorised for each.

The EXEED TX will be made available in Europe with three highly efficient electrified powertrains: a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) or battery electric vehicle (BEV).

The first configuration to go on sale will be an ultra-low emission PHEV variant. This model will intelligently combine a 147bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine with a 85 kW electric motor, powering the EXEED TX via an intelligent all-wheel-drive system through a seven-speed hybrid drive transmission.

With the combined power of the combustion engine and e-motor, the compact SUV will reach 62mph in 6.0 seconds, with a top speed of 124mph.

The EXEED TX will be able to travel up to 74 miles in pure electric mode with power supplied by the lithium ion battery.

The battery will fast-charge to 80 per cent in 30 minutes and reach full charge from a 220 V household supply in just four hours.

CEO Dr. Anning Chen said: “Our brand will target open-minded, relatively younger customers in particular, with a product rollout strategy that focuses on quality, low- and zero-emissions powertrains, and emotional engagement with customers. All Chery vehicles that are intended to be sold in Europe will feature class-leading connectivity, be fun to drive, offer flexible and spacious interiors and will provide comprehensive personalisation, all of which are aligned with our high standards of product quality and aftersales support.”