Earlier this month we asked Volkswagen to comment on reports from China that said the automaker was planning to make Jetta a standalone brand in the world’s largest market.
At the time, VW representatives dismissed the reports as “pure speculations.” As it turns out, those reports were quite accurate except the timing of the disclosure probably didn’t suit Volkswagen’s plans. Today, however, the German automaker officially announced the launch of the Jetta brand in China for the third quarter of this year.
Targeting young buyers from large cities where vehicle ownership levels are still very low, the Jetta marque will kick off with one sedan and two SUVs, all of which will be produced by FAW-Volkswagen in Chengdu.
VW says the new brand will allow it to exploit its market potential in China more effectively. “With Jetta, we are closing the gap between the established VW lead brand in the top volume segment and entry-level mobility, which accounts for about one-third of the Chinese market and is served mainly by local brands. This way, we will significantly increase our market coverage,” explains Jürgen Stackmann, Member of the Volkswagen brand Board of Management responsible for Sales.
Jetta’s lineup will include the Jetta sedan currently sold in China and two SUVs
While VW’s press release doesn’t use the words “budget” or “low-cost,” it says the Jetta brand will allow the Volkswagen core brand to position itself even more clearly as “top of volume” with its vehicles. Developed together with FAW-Volkswagen, Jetta-branded cars will be specially tailored to the needs of the Chinese market and will help VW forge ahead “with the further regionalization of the market.”
No details were offered about the Jetta lineup but the photos show the sedan and one of the SUVs. While the sedan is clearly a rebadged version of the VW Jetta currently sold in China, the SUV vaguely resembles the SEAT Ateca — the SEAT brand is not sold officially in China. If the reports from earlier this month were totally accurate, the second SUV would have to be based on the SEAT Tarraco.
Volkswagen says the Jetta brand will adopt new sales approaches. It will have its own traditional dealership network but it will approach customers directly courtesy of digital showrooms, shopping malls, and mobile sales trucks. VW estimates about 200 Jetta showrooms will exist by the end of the year.