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?