Today in Chinese Car Brands That Time Forgot (CCBTTF™):Anda’er, a very interesting brand that made a wide variety of vehicles from the early 1990’s to the early 00’s. Anda’er is not totally forgotten; the name recently made a comeback.
Anda’er was a brand under the Anhui Anqing Auto Factory. The company was founded in 1991 in the great city of Anqing in, you guessed it, Anhui Province. They used the AQ and later the AAQ designations. The company started with a series of vehicles based on the BAW BJ212 and BAW BJ2032C, including a wagon and a pickup truck-sedan (a pickup truck that looks like a sedan, like the brown car on the photo).
The AQ 6460 was one of those wagons. It looked rather good and stylish for its day, with bulbous shiny wheel covers. It was powered by the BAW 492QA2 engine, widely used among smaller Chinese car makers in those days. Output was rated at 84 hp. Gearbox was a five-speed manual.
A beautiful 1992 photo of an Anda’er open-top ‘parade car’ followed by what seems to be a pickup truck-sedan. The open-top car carries a large contraption advertising the company.
They also made more conventional pickup truck called the AQ 1020S. This car was based on the FAW Jiefang CA1020PLF, which in turn was a clone of the fifth generation Toyota HiLux. This Jiefang too was much used by smaller Chinese automakers to base their own cars on.
So far nothing very special; a typical brand for its days. But things started to become extra interesting in 1995 when the company changed its name to Anhui Anqing Anda’er Auto Factory, incorporating the Anda’er brand name in the company name.
They also came up with an all-new car:
This Anda’er AAQ 6370 was a small and surprisingly trendy five-door MPV, complete with a factory body kit. Production started in 1996.
The Anda’er badge under the mirror.
The AAQ 6370 was based on the Xiali TJ 7100 hatchback, manufactured by Tianjin Xiali, a subsidiary of FAW. The Xiali TJ 7100 was a based on the 3th generation Daihatsu Charade. Tianjin Xiali had a license to produce the car and engines for the Chinese market. At the same time, at that was not really covered by the license, Tianjin Xiali also sold the platform and engines to other Chinese automakers, including Anda’er.
Anda’er designed a completely new mini and unique MPV body.
The AAQ 6370 was powered by the Xiali TJ 376QB, a 0.993 cc 3-cylinder petrol engine with an output of 47 hp. The engine was mated to a four-speed manual, sending horses to the front wheels. Size: 3750/1580/1770, wheelbase was 2300 and curb weight 950 kilo.
A second variant was called the AAQ 6380. This model was equipped with a 1.0 liter four-cylinder engine with an output of 48 hp. One horse more than the Xiali engine! It was sourced from a Chinese company called Dongnan Engine Works. Gearbox was the four-speed manual again.
Dashboard was completely Xiali, but Anda’er fitted a nice new faux-wood steering wheel. There are also ‘wood’ panels around the air vents and around the door handles.
The AAQ 6370 seated five. The interior looks very roomy thanks to the large windows.
The rear lights were taken from Xiali too.
An example with shiny bits over the wheel arches, a popular accessory at the time.
Anda’er changed the design of the front several times. In 2001 Anda’er debuted a version with completely redesigned light units. And more importantly…
… it had a totally new dashboard. The Xiali dash was gone, replaced with an Anda’er design. Most eye catching was the enormous faux-wood panel on top of the center stack, with two integrated speakers.
And sometime after that Anda’er launched yet another version with new headlights that didn’t turn into the front fender anymore, a new front bumper, and new very large mirrors.
This photo is from a period brochure showing a AAQ 6370 with a different paint job, a round grille, and very pretty sporty wheels. It was probably just a looker for the brochure.
And finally there was this one. It is a prototype of a more modern version of the AAQ 6370. It has a new shiny grille, a new front bumper with a lot of air intakes, new lights that yet again turn into the front fender, and new vertical-oriented mirrors. This car was apparently shown in 2003, just before the first bankruptcy of the company (more on that later). As far as I know only one example was ever made.
One more oddity: in 1999 Hefei University, based in Hefei in Anhui Province, build an electric version of the AAQ 6370. The vehicle was used for several years for testing. Only one car was made.
At the same time Anda’er was busy with their MPV they also made two small pickup truck, based again on the Xiali TJ 7100, with a Volkswagen-inspired front. The AAQ 1010D was a two-seat two-door pickup, powered by the same TJ 376QB engine as the AAQ 6370.
The AAQ 1010S was a five-seat four-door pickup truck. It was really just a Xiali with a bed attached to its tail. Nose design is the same as on the AAQ 1010D. We know the exact size of this one: 3940/1620/1450, and wheelbase is 2320.
A small sedan that isn’t mentioned in any of my period books and catalogs. Front design is similar to the pickup trucks and it has the same mirrors as the last variant of the AAQ 6370.
The rest of the body is of a new design, most notably around the C-pillar and the rear end. It looks like a proper sedan, but it most likely based on the Xiali hatchback again. It does not seem to be based on the Xiali sedan, the lines are just too different.
The wheels are extremely narrow. If I find out more about this sedan I will add it to the story. Now we go MPV again:
This might look like a first generation Toyota Previa but it really is a Anda’er AAQ 6480. There was a lot of Previa going on in China the 1990’s. It was officially sold by Toyota, it was smuggled in, there were semi-legal CKD operations in Guangdong, and there were several companies making copies of the Previa, includuding Anda’er.
The lines are easily recognizable as a Previa but the proportions are somewhat off. That is mostly because the AAQ 6480 was longer and had a shorter wheelbase that the Previa.
Power came from a 2.2 liter four-cylinder ‘491Q-2’ petrol engine, sending horses to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual with an overdrive. Output of the engine was 91 hp and 175 Nm. The engine was manufactured by a Chinese company called Shenyang Xinguang Huachen Engine Factory.
The AAQ 6480 was manufactured from around 1992 to around 1996. Later on I will write a separate post about all the 1990’s Previa madness.
What happened next
Gate of the original Anda’er factory.
Sadly, as mentioned earlier, Anda’er went bankrupt in 2003. At that moment the company only produced the AAQ 6370. They simply didn’t sell enough of ‘m and the bills piled up.
But in 2006 the company was resurrected by a partnership including several local government agencies, a business development zone, and private investors. They set up a new factory in the Anhui Wangjiang Economic Development Zone, located in Wangjiang County in Anhui.
They came up with the AAQ 600, a small electric car, intended for use as a taxi. The AAQ 600 looked a lot like the Suzuki Alto.
The Alto is another one of those cars which a rich and very messy history in China. It was officially made by Changan-Suzuki, and Suzuki licensed the design to many other Chinese companies.
Changan-Suzuki and those other companies sold the Alto and the Alto platform to yet other companies who based their own cars on it. And then there were many completely illegal copies. Almost every Chinese car maker, small or bigger, was selling an Alto variant in the 1990’s.
I am not exactly sure how Anda’er got the design, but it seems most likely that they simply bought entire vehicles at another car maker and rebadged them. Minus the engines of course because Anda’er put an electric motor in.
The motor had an output of 10 (ten) hp and was mated to a 96V lead-acid battery. Top speed was claimed to be 80 km/h. Size: 3405/1420/1459, and wheelbase was 2175.
The company built 20 units that were put into trial operation on the streets of Wangjiang County. And then production stopped because the company was out of cash. Various investors tried various schemes to rescua the company but to no avail; in 2010 Anda’er was declared bankrupt once more. And so they remained until…
… the great year year of 2016 when the remnants of the company, including the factory hall in Wangjiang, were bought by Yudea, a large maker of small electric cars. Yudea then brought the Anda’er brand back to life again, and uses it now for a series of mid-size electric buses. The first one of those was the AAQ 6660, a 23-seat bus powered by a 147 hp electric motor.
Not exactly a cool ‘car’, but I am happy Anda’er is in a way still with us today.
More Chinese Car Brands That Time Forgot soon!