General Motor’s mini-vehicle venture in southern China unveiled its first car brand as it aims at the fast-growing moderately priced segment of the car market. SAIC-GM-Wuling plans to roll out a series of passenger cars under nameplate of Bao Jun or treasured horse in the near future, said its general manager, Shen Yang.
“Bao Jun is just the beginning. We will launch one new model per year carrying the same nameplate in the next few years. We will also develop SUVs and MPVs,” said Shen in Shanghai. Bao Jun will compete with local brands. Before Bao Jun, the Chevy Spark was the only car made at the venture.
Shen did not disclose the price of Bao Jun, which will hit the market by the end of 2010. SAIC president Chen Hong also considers Bao Jun complementary to its own, much-pricier portfolio, which includes the MG 6, Roewe 550 among others.
Wuling could now be a platform for SAIC to compete with cheap, local brands made by Geely Automobile Holdings and Chery Automobile, Chen said previously. Affordable and reliable Wuling cars jointly developed by GM, SAIC and the venture would also give the Chinese car maker a chance to compete effectively in emerging markets.
“We will start selling MG 6 next year in the UK, but at the same time we will not give up any growth opportunity in developing markets such as Southeast Asia,” said Chen. By 2015, SAIC-GM-Wuling is expected to sell 1.59 million mini vehicles, up from 1.06 million units sold in 2009, Shen said, a very conservative target compared with its 65 per cent sales jump last year.
Bao Jun will be made at its plant in the southern city of Liuzhou. GM, which now holds 34 per cent of SAIC-GM-Wuling, has been seeking to raise its stake in the venture. It intends to buy the stake from Liuzhou Wuling, a subsidiary of SAIC, which holds 15.9 per cent of the tie-up. SAIC’s 50.1 per cent will remain unchanged.