By on October 19, 2010

You’d think that joint ventures with Chinese car makers would be hell-bent on underscoring their foreignness. That’s what sets them apart from Chinese cars. The Chinese customer is no fool and exactly knows whether a 3-series is made by Brilliance in China or by BMW in Bavaria. But push comes to shove, a car with a foreign nameplate has more cachet in China than homegrown produce. Which makes this new trend even more wondrous: More and more joint ventures turn out their own through-and-through Chinese cars.

Even more curiously, the trend is led by an American joint venture: SAIC-GM-Wuling. GM’s el cheapo mini commercial vehicle joint venture with SAIC and Wuling will bring out its first self-developed sedan, the Baojun. It will be launched November 18. More Baojun cars are soon to show up.

The Baojun is followed by Dongfen Nissan’s Qichen, expected to hit the Chinese showrooms by the end of the (Western) year.

Guangzhou Honda may come out with a self-developed Linian car early next year.

Whereas the Intellectual Property for JV cars is usually licensed to the JV, the designs of self developed cars belong to the joint venture. I know you will get suspicious now, and your suspicions are well founded: Deep in the Baojun lurks a Buick Excelle, says Gasgoo.

There you have it: Faux Chinese cars. Chinese on the outside, foreign on the inside.

And in case you want to know, Chinaautoweb tells us that “ ‘Baojun’ contains two Chinese characters: ‘Bao’ means ‘treasured,’ ‘precious;’ ‘Jun” means ‘fine horse’ or ‘steed.’ ” Well, “bao-bao” is what you call your Chinese “honey.” Honey horsey? Precious pony?  Moneyed Mustang?

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11 Comments on “New Trend In China: Chinese Cars...”


  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    If, as I suspected for some time, Chinese car companies are slowly nudging their foreign partners out of China, then this will mean big problems to namely 3 companies. Volkswagen, GM and Nissan, since they have the most to lose by being pushed out of China.
     
    China and India will be true economic powerhouses because, unlike Germany, they will be able to produce goods into the trillions of dollars, but will have enough domestic customers to sell them to. Germany need to export to keep production at the levels they currently have since they don’t have a big domestic base of customers.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I’m not sure if TTAC would be able to swing this, but if someone could review a Bavarian BMW and a Brilliance BMW, as identical as possible, side-by-side, that is something I’d love to see. Who knows, the Brilliance may surprise us…though I kinda doubt it…

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      A comparison on a value per money spent will favors the Brilliance version, whereas a comparison of overall quality and refinement will favor BMW. You get what you pay for!

  • avatar
    ComfortablyNumb

    Isn’t the whole point of a JV to allow foreign manufacturers to sell in China?  So if a Chinese JV partner takes foreign technology and sells it under another brand, aren’t they stabbing their JV partner in the back?  Bertel, help me out here…what’s in it for the foreign JV partner?  Seems like a lopsided deal.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      What’s in it for the JV ‘partner’?
       
      The loss of any shred of IP to the ChiComms. China has been a lopsided deal since the US granted them MFN trading status without any reciprocation.
       
      We in the US have succeeded in making a third world Communist regime the kings of the world by legislatively letting our 1% rape the other 99%.
       

  • avatar
    Stingray

    That logo and name are similar to the Samand’s one.
     
    I guess the Excelle in it’s current form (Nubira/Optra/Lacetti derivative) in on its way out. So dressing it with different clothes makes sense to a value brand. And then, the Chinese get the ownership of the platform. Let’s say the “technological transfer” circle gets completed.
     
     

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Thanks for providing a translation of ‘Baojun.” It’s interesting to see how automotive product names reflect geography (BMW), people’s names (Chevrolet, et al.), animals, or fake stuff created to sell cars (Infiniti).

  • avatar
    wallstreet

    This is getting lame. What does Chinese called BMW? It is called:”Baoma” which means precious horse. WTF is wrong with their taxonomy skill? I don’t believe someone can’t come up with an unique name consider at least 10,000 Chinese characters are in used today.

  • avatar
    wallstreet

    I believe bao-bao is what you address to a cute baby or cute infant.
    Herr Schmitt, you might score every now and then if you address your mistress “bao-babe”.

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    I think Bertel is right here – had several Chinese co-workers, all of them addressing their wives / girlfriends with bao bao. None of them had children, and none of the significant others were infants, either ;)

    • 0 avatar

      Welcome to China, the land of intentional ambiguity. When I came to China (and before I chose to marry Japanese) a Chinese babe had her eyes on me. She insisted on being a “bao-bao.” (Sometimes she wanted to be called “xiao tu zi”, that’s a little white rabbit that has a thing with a big bad wolf – the Chinese version of Little Red Riding Hood.)
      A little later, she started calling me “lao gong” and wanted to be addressed as “lao po.” Now it gets complicated. If you look up “lao gong,” you’ll find “old grandfather”, and “lao po” is an old lady. Don’t be offended. Further digging will tell you that “lao gong” is synonymous with “husband” and “lao po” with “wife.”  However, in certain parts of China, you call your BF a “lao gong” and your GF a “lao po” to signify that it’s not a one night stand. It’s the cool thing to do. Just in case you ever meet a China Doll, like Jack did in Canada ….


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