GM Unveils First Model of New Brand for China

The Baojun 630 is aimed at the second- and third-tier cities in the country's vast interior.

General Motors showcased the Baojun 630 ahead of the this week's Shanghai Auto Show. The car is an affordable yet sporty 1.5-liter-engine sedan. It was jointly produced by GM and its partners Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp Group and Wuling Motors.

"GM is proud to be introducing our newest brand to the people of China," said Kevin Wale, president and managing director of the GM China Group.

"The Baojun 630 will address the growing demand across the country for affordable personal transportation." The compact sedan will be priced between $10,000 and $15,000, Wales said.

It was designed for young drivers in China's second- and third-tier cities in the country's vast interior, which are home to tens of millions of people with growing buying power.

Having already conquered China's coastal areas and first-tier cities such as Beijing and Shangahi, carmakers are increasingly looking inland to extend their phenomenal growth in a market that saw sales rise more than 32% to 18.06 million units last year.

China overtook the United States as the world's top car market in 2009. GM is the leading foreign automaker in the country as measured by sales.

Baojun, whose name translates to "treasured horse", will go on sale later this month through a network of 150 dedicated dealerships across the country.

The number of dealerships is expected to double by the end of the year, GM said.

Matthew Tsien, vice president of the SAIC-GM-Wuling (SGMW) joint venture, said several further models under the Baojun nameplate were in development. The new brand was first announced last year.

Analysts remain bullish about the market's prospects, as the number of car owners is still relatively small compared with the country's massive population of more than 1.3 billion.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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