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VW spins off Jetta into separate brand for young up-and-comers in China

It'll start by selling one sedan and two SUVs.


While most of us will probably only ever know the Jetta as a plucky compact sedan, young buyers in China will get to experience Jetta in a whole new way -- as its own separate automaker.

Volkswagen announced on Tuesday that it will spin Jetta off as a separate brand in China. The vehicles will focus on staying cost-efficient, aimed at appealing to young up-and-comers in The Middle Kingdom.

"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," said Jürgen Stackmann, the VW board member responsible for sales, in a statement. "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."

It's... a Jetta. With an uglier grille.


Jetta already has its plan in place. It will start by offering three vehicles -- one sedan and two SUVs. They'll be built in Chengdu at an FAW-Volkswagen joint venture plant. The cars will have their own dealer network, which will focus on alternative sales methods like digital showrooms, mobile sales vehicles and shopping-mall showrooms. VW expects to have 200 dealers in place by the end of 2019.

The cars look pretty Volkswagen-y. The sedan VW showed in pictures looks pretty much like the latest version of Jetta, but the grille appears to have more of a, how should I say this, acquired taste. The one SUV the automaker showed off in pictures looks like a blend of a Tiguan and a Nissan Rogue.

China is Volkswagen's largest market, and even though sales were down 2.1 percent over the previous year, the automaker still sold some 3.1 million vehicles there, comprising nearly 50 percent of its global sales volume. By spinning off Jetta, VW will be able to push its core-brand cars further upmarket to capture additional luxury sales. 

There's a fair bit of VW hidden away in this Jetta SUV, but at the same time, it doesn't look like anything else VW sells.