The Volkswagen Group’s China strategy is now focusing on the development of a third joint venture with local carmaker JAC.
JAC Volkswagen has been given the mission to accelerate the introduction of the Seat brand to the Chinese market during a meeting that took place in Spain on May 27. As part of the agreement, JAC Volkswagen will ramp up Seat’s development in China with the opening of a new R&D center in Hefei, Anhui province in 2021.
When the JAC Volkswagen joint venture was set up in 2017, its mission statement was the development, production, and marketing of pure battery vehicles. However, the newly-signed agreement also gives JV the task to launch Seat in China in two or three years.
The agreement also marks the promotion of JAC Volkswagen to a globally integrated member of the VW Group which will play an active role in the company’s manufacturing network.
“The signing of this agreement is a new step forward in the strategic plan for the globalization of Seat. With the introduction of our business in China, we are boosting the future of the company and of electric mobility at the same time,” said Seat president Luca de Meo.
That’s because JAC and Seat plan to develop their own platform for smaller e-cars. A planned R&D center will be responsible for developing those EVs as well as components for electric vehicles and mobility solutions. The center is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in 2021 in Hefei.
Interestingly, when the Seat brand officially arrives in China, it will already find some of its vehicles driving on those streets. That’s because FAW VW’s new Jetta brand will start selling the VS5 and VS7 this year; models which are nothing more than re-badged Seat Ateca and Tarraco SUVs.
The city of 8 million people will be a “playground” for the development of future mobility solutions. As part of a separate agreement called “Smart City,” Volkswagen will have the opportunity to test new technologies, business models and products in a connected smart city environment.
The focus will be on the development of autonomous driving, with Volkswagen Group China, Mobility Asia, and JAC pooling their resources to collaborate on autonomous mobility services, including self-driving vehicles (robotaxis), autonomous fleet management, ride-hailing, and car sharing.