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In China, Jetta is now a stand-alone brand that’s separate from Volkswagen

Offering attractive vehicles to first-time car buyers

The Jetta booth at Auto Shanghai 2019 is located right beside Volkswagen’s. Cool logo. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

Last year, a total of 22.7 million brand-new vehicles were sold in China, of which 4,207,055 units (or 18.5%) were from Volkswagen AG. With this kind of phenomenal sales success in just one market, you would think VW might choose to simply maintain the status quo and keep employing the same formula in the way it sells its products to Chinese motorists.

But no, car-selling to Volkswagen in China has become both science and religion. The German automaker will do everything in its power to preserve its market supremacy in the People’s Republic. And the brand has just figured out that one way of doing that is by creating a sub-brand for “young, middle-class customers.” That’s in large part due to first-time car shoppers supposedly making up 81% of buyers in the entry-level segment in the world’s biggest (and hence most important) automotive market. Kind of like what Toyota tried to do in the United States with a youth-oriented sub-brand (the now-defunct Scion).

But instead of creating an entirely new brand aimed at young people, Volkswagen merely handpicked one of its model names (Jetta) and spun it off into a fresh sub-brand of affordable but attractive vehicles—complete with its own hip logo.

The Jetta is no longer just a car model in China. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

For now, there are three models under the new Jetta brand, all on display at the ongoing Auto Shanghai motor show. Apparently, all Jetta products will be manufactured by one of Volkswagen’s joint-venture partners in China, FAW.

The first model is the VA3 compact sedan, which is based on the Chinese-market Jetta.

The Jetta VA3 compact sedan. PHOTOS BY VERNON B. SARNE

The second model is the VS5 compact crossover that is said to be based on the Seat Ateca.

The Jetta VS5 compact crossover. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

The third model is the VS7 midsize SUV that is reportedly based on the Seat Tarraco.

The Jetta VS7 midsize SUV. PHOTOS BY VERNON B. SARNE

According to a Volkswagen press statement released in February, sales of Jetta vehicles in China will officially start in the third quarter of 2019. At the rate things are going, we won’t be surprised if this new sub-brand gets exported to other markets, including the Philippines.

Interesting times for the car industry. And we’re not complaining.



Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist for 24 years. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. The rest, as they say, is rock and roll. He writes the column ‘Spoiler’.



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