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by Tim Beissmann

The first vehicle from General Motors’ new Baojun brand – designed specifically for the inland cities in the Chinese market – was officially unveiled yesterday.

The first Baojun 630, a cut-price four-door sedan, rolled off the production line on Monday ahead of the vehicle’s launch in early 2011.

Baojun is the creation of a joint venture between GM, SAIC and Wuling targeting what are known as third- and fourth-tier cities in China.

GM China vice president, Terry Johnsson, said these smaller cities and townships were a rapidly expanding market compared to the larger, higher socio-economic coastal cities that have traditionally been the targets of international manufacturers.

Mr Johnsson said it would not be unexpected to see as much as 60 percent of GM China’s sales in tier three and four cities within five years.

Building on the success of the previously launched Sail brand, Baojun will have its own dedicated dealer network to allow it to compete against well-established locals like Geely and BYD, who currently dominate the market.

However, industry analysts predict it will take the new brand some time to gain acceptance in a market that is already overflowing with both domestic and international brands.

The Chinese expansion has been a crucial one for GM, which is very much still in recovery mode from the GFC-driven downturn of 2009.

Together with its local partners, GM has sold more than two million vehicles in China in 2010, smashing its 12-month sales target.

Although prices have not yet been announced, GM says the Baojun 630 will be “very competitive” in its segment.

Featuring the best aspects of GM’s design and engineering knowhow and China’s inexpensive production processes, the compact Baojun 630 will meet Euro IV emissions standards and be built at an initial capacity of 100,000 vehicles per year.




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