Up to now, the M.O. of foreign joint ventures operating in China was that precious intellectual property was brought to China, where the working masses would turn it into cars. Now, the Chevrolet Sail marks a, well, change of tide.
Old China hands remember the Buick Sail. For quite a while, the Opel Corsa supermini had popped up all over the world under various guises: Vauxhall Nova, Chevrolet Classic, Holden Barina, Opel Vita, as the Chevy in Mexico, as Swing, Joy, and in China as the Buick Sail. In China, the Sail came down in 2005.
Now, a new Sail is sold in China. Not just made, but developed in China.
Shanghai GM yesterday introduced the Chevrolet New Sail sedan, touted as “the first passenger car created in China by a Sino-foreign joint venture,” as Shanghai GM’s presser has it.
The small car was developed by Shanghai GM and the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC), both GM-SAIC joint ventures. “In addition to being sold in China, the New Sail will also be exported to other emerging markets,” says the press release.
Last November, Ding Lei, General manager of Shanghai GM, insisted that “the new Sail was developed entirely by Shanghai GM,” and that the beauty of this is that there is “no transfer fee.” So no payment from Shanghai to Rüsselsheim, or Delaware. Who knows, if the Sail catches wind in other markets, then maybe, transfer fees could flow to Shanghai.
The base model should cost around $8,800, intruding into an area previously reserved to homegrown Chinese brands, says Gasgoo.