General Motors’ North American operations may have shed four brands over the past year, but the company’s Chinese wing sees the need to create an all-new vehicle line: Baojun.
The brand, created in partnership with longtime GM allies SAIC and Wuling, is designed to produce affordable vehicles for China’s second- and third-tier markets. GM’s current Chinese portfolio, although largely manufactured within China’s borders, are typically targeted toward buyers in premium segments. In contrast, Baojun’s first vehicle, the 630 sedan, was designed to keep overhead costs low, allowing it to go head-to-head with vehicles from Geely, Chery, and other Chinese automakers.
“We carefully studied the market and customers,” said Kevin Wale, president and managing director of the GM China Group. “Quality, design, fuel economy, and durability were made a focus to appeal to local car buyers, particularly first-time buyers in the nation’s [China's] second- and third-tier markets.”
Inspired largely by Wuling’s previous Demo Car concept, the 630 reportedly rides atop a modified version of the platform used in the last-generation Buick Excelle, which was derived from the Daewoo Lacetti. Reports suggest the 630 will be available with three different engines, including a 1.5-liter DOHC I-4, a version of the 1.5-liter fitted with variable valve timing, and a 1.8-liter DOHC I-4 with VVT. GM says each engine offering is completely compliant with Euro IV emission standards.
The SAIC-GM-Wuling consortium may have just unveiled the first Baojun vehicle this morning, but the joint venture says it has plans for a full lineup of vehicles in the near future. No details on upcoming model offerings have been released, but expect them to center on passenger-friendly vehicles, not the small cargo vans and commercial vehicles long associated with Wuling.
For now, the 630 will remain Baojun’s sole offering and will be produced at SGMW’s plant in Liuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang, China. If all goes according to plan, GM hopes it can build and sell nearly 100,000 630s annually.