BaoJun: China's Trojan Export Horse. By GM

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
baojun china s trojan export horse by gm

Yesterday, Ed introduced us to the latest addition to GM’s brand portfolio, the BaoJun. Introduced in China, it is allegedly slotted below the Chinese Chevrolet and the Chinese Buick, and supposedly, it is targeted at “first-time buyers in the nation’s second- and third-tier markets,” or so the propaganda goes. The car is made by the SAIC-GM-Wuling (SGMW) joint venture. We’ve had our eyes on that brand for a while, and eyed it with interested suspicion. The suspicion seems to be warranted.

China is brand crazed, but Chinese companies still need a little help in creating brands. (Quick: Name some Chinese brands with worldwide appeal? Thank you.) Why the joint venture would pick a new brand for China is a mystery. Doesn’t GM have a lot of used ones sitting around? I mean, even an Oldsmobile or a LaSalle would have more brand cachet in China than a “BaoJun.” (Which stands allegedly for “fine horse” – gee, why not Mustang? Sorry, wrong company.)

Now, information transpires that puts the undertaking into a more plausible light: According to Shanghai Securities News (via Gasgoo) “unlike other homegrown car brands, the BaoJun was initially researched and developed for export. SGMW has already started export of its mini vehicles, and has taken its first step towards output of products, management team and operation model in India.” So BaoJun is actually part of the GM-SAIC-Wuling plan to take over India.

And that just the beginning. According to the paper, the SGMW JV is now considering to supply the car to other markets also, as CKD, or as whole production.

Other than many homegrown Chinese offerings, the car should pass muster abroad: “The compact sedan features a highly efficient GM powertrain that meets all local emission standards as well as the advanced Euro IV standard.” No news about crash tests, but with the help of GM engineers, it will survive those just as easily. We’ve said it a while ago: Deep in the BaoJun lurks a Buick Excelle.

Now why not export a Buick Excelle just like the Chevy Sail? Simple: A foreign car is licensed to the joint venture. With a homegrown car, even if it’s just homegrown on paper, the designs of the allegedly self-developed car are owned by the joint venture. When GM bought 10 percent of Wuling, a company that builds a million cars a year, and when GM paid only the nominal sum of $51m, I had my suspicions that other payments must have been made. In the bargain, GM also agreed to provide technical services. Here appears to be a product of one of these technical services.

So everybody is freaking out about cheap Chinese exports flooding world markets and putting everybody out of business. It’s not happening. Until the Chinese receive help. From a company partially owned by the U.S. government and partially owned by the U.A.W. Isn’t life full of surprises?

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  • Mike978 Mike978 on Nov 23, 2010
    Dannii - lets get a few facts., First it was around $70 billion in the bailouts of Chrysler and GM. Second some of that money has been paid back with a very high likelihood that in the final analysis the Government will have either made upto $5 billion or is out by at most $10 billion. That depends on the stock price. Which since you sound like a free market kind of guy you should applaud that GM is back on the stock exchange. If the bankruptcy was illegal as you and a few others state with absolute certainty then why has no case been taken to court or the Supreme Court. As you say this is a country of laws and there is plenty of legal recourse. The option was complete bankruptcy and bondholders and others (they knew it was risky for years) would get very little if anything. With the bailout that will cost the US at most $10 billion you have saved hundreds of thousands of well paid jobs. Also remember the timing the US economy was in recession since December 2007 and losing >500,000 a MONTH. Adding these losses on would not have helped business or consumer sentiment. Why do people care about this but not the $600 billion spent on defense EVERY year or the $1 trillion spent on Iraq and Afghanistan. $10 billion is cheapo for what it achieved.
  • BDB BDB on Nov 23, 2010

    One note about American exports/manufacturing: The old chestnut that Americans don't make anything or export anything was raised in this post, and it's just not true. The US is the world's #4 exporter, behind China, Germany, and Japan. The US is still the #1 manufacturer, and the share of the world's goods that we manufacture has been remarkably stable for decades. Since two of the countries above us are export-or-die nations with shrinking domestic markets, and the other is a source of cheap labor with an undervalued currency, that's not too bad. Also FWIW China imports more from the US than any other non-Asian country, yes, even Germany.

  • Tassos Government cheese for millionaires, while idiot Joe biden adds trillions to the debt.What a country (IT ONCE WAS!)
  • Tassos screw the fat cat incompetents. Let them rot. No deal.
  • MaintenanceCosts I think if there's one thing we can be sure of given Toyota's recent decisions it's that the strongest version of the next Camry will be a hybrid. Sadly, the buttery V6 is toast.A Camry with the Highlander/Sienna PSD powertrain would be basically competitive in the sedan market, with the slow death of V6 and big-turbo options. But for whatever reason it seems like that powertrain is capacity challenged. Not sure why, as there's nothing exotic in it.A Camry with the Hybrid Max powertrain would be bonkers, easily the fastest thing in segment. It would likewise be easy to build; again, there's nothing exotic in the Hybrid Max powertrain. (And Hybrid Max products don't seem to be all that constrained, so far.)
  • Analoggrotto The readers of TTAC deserve better than a bunch of Kia shills posing as journalists.
  • Lou_BC How do they work covered in snow, ice, mud, dust and water? Vibration?