China is getting a double dose of Volkswagen Passat. The new generation B7 Passat will hit China’s streets in a longer wheelbase version, to provide legroom for the boss in the back while the driver up front braves the crazy Chinese traffic. Just like the previous-gen B6, the car will be built by Volkswagen’s northern joint venture with FAW and will be sold under the Magotan name. “Passat” was already taken by Volkswagen’s southern joint venture, more on that below. (Read More…)
One of my jobs in China was to help out with the launch of the Passat B6. Except that there was no Passat B6 in China. In 2005, the car was introduced in Europe to great acclaim. A year later, it was supposed to be made in China. In China, Volkswagen has two joint ventures, Shanghai Volkswagen in Shanghai, and FAW-VW in frigid Changchun. SVW made and makes the Passat and was the logical choice to make the B6. Except that SVW didn’t want it. They deemed the 1996 vintage B5 and its Chinese variants as good enough for the Chinese market. The folks in Wolfsburg shook their heads. “They always complain that they don’t get the latest technology, and when we give them the latest technology, they keep the old stuff.”
Making the best out of having two joint ventures in China, Volkswagen sold the B6 license to FAW-VW. As the name “Passat” was taken, the B6 received a new name, “Magotan.” Pronounced “Ma-GO-tn”. Except that in Chinese, it’s called “May Teng.” (Are we confused yet? Gee, there is a company that is proud of the mess.) The Ma-GO-tn/May Teng was launched to limited success.
Last year, a new generation Passat was launched in Europe, dubbed the B7 internally, but detractors say it’s no more than a big facelift. The Chinese version will be shown at the Shanghai Motor Show. Guess who will make it? (Read More…)