Volkswagen’s partnership with Chinese automaker First Auto Works (FAW) started in 1991 with the building of a Volkswagen Jetta. Since that time, the FAW-VW partnership has been very busy, cranking out not just Jettas, but Audis, Golfs, Sagitars, T-Rocs, and many other popular cars. Now, they’re going back to their roots with the Jetta and spinning it off into its own sub-brand, primarily targeted at younger Chinese buyers.
The Jetta sub-brand will start with a three-car lineup, the first of which, the VA3, will be essentially a re-badged current Chinese-market Jetta, and two other models, the VS5 and VS7, are rumored to be adapted from the SEAT Ateca, a crossover, and the Terraco, a larger SUV.
SEAT does not currently sell cars in China, so the inclusion of re-badged SEAT cars will be a first.
The new Jetta brand will be manufactured at the FAW-Volkswagen factory in Chengdu, Sichuan Province,
and it seems that while the brand was originally going to be a budget brand, it looks like with the inclusion of the two SEAT SUVs, the goal is to have a younger-targeted, affordable brand but not strictly a budget one.
According to a post on CarNewsChina’s Facebook page, younger buyers tend to associate the Jetta name with cheap cars for taxi drivers, so that will take some work to overcome, it seems.
Design-wise, it looks like the Jetta brand will be getting its own unique hexagonal grille shape and a distinctive grille pattern as its primary brand signifier, a slightly more aggressive and angular look than the current Volkswagen design language.
This is all especially interesting because of the complicated lineage of Jettas in China. A number of cars have been badged as Jettas in China that would be Polos in other markets, and Jettas of various generations have been sold in China as Lavidas, Sagitars, Boras, and, yes, sometimes Jetta Pioneers or Jetta Kings or Jetta Nights.
It’s very confusing.
The new Jetta brand is expected to be presented formally at the Shanghai Auto Show in April.
Updated: Tuesday, February 26 10:07 a.m. Volkswagen has a press release out now, with some images of the new Jettas, included above. Here’s what Jürgen Stackmann, Member of the Volkswagen brand Board of Management responsible for Sales, says about the new brand:
“In China, the Jetta plays an extremely valuable role for us as a Volkswagen model. It has brought mobility for the masses, just like the Beetle once did in Europe. Developed by Volkswagen and built in China, the Jetta China has placed China on four wheels. To this day, it is one of Volkswagen’s most popular models in China – a real icon. This is why we are transforming a model into a brand for the first time in the history of Volkswagen and establishing a separate model and brand family.”