From Model to Make: Volkswagen Launches JETTA Brand

There’s a reason for the use of upper-case letters — the Volkswagen Jetta is still a car model sold in China, and a quite popular one at that, while JETTA is a new brand aimed at entry-level consumers in that mega market.

VW is an incredibly big deal in the world’s most car-hungry country, eating up a considerable share of China’s mainstream vehicle segments. The brand sold 3.11 million vehicles in China last year. However, its presence at the bottom end of the market isn’t quite as strong, and there remains many millions of Chinese who haven’t adopted the new way of life and picked up a car. That’s what JETTA’s for.

The automaker sees great opportunity in first-time buyers. With JETTA, the company plans to offer one sedan (looks like a Jetta — hmm … JETTA Jetta?) and two crossovers through 200 dealers by the end of the year.

Tasked with assembling the vehicles is the FAW-Volkswagen joint venture, builder of all VWs and Audis in that country.

Kep to the brand’s success are young adults. To lure these consumers into the fold, VW proposes a new sales approach. “JETTA will establish its own network of dealerships and will approach customers directly with innovative sales formats – digital showrooms, shopping malls and mobile sales trucks,” the automaker said.

The presence of JETTA, VW hopes, will also insulate VW from market forces. Chinese new vehicles sales slipped last year, punishing American companies like Ford and GM, though VW actually saw its market share grow. At 2.1 percent, the VW brand’s sales loss was less than half that of the overall market (down 4.6 percent, compared to 2017).

“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,” said Jürgen Stackmann, board of management member responsible for sales. “This way, we will significantly increase our market coverage.”

The first JETTA models should reach Chinese buyers in the third quarter of this year.

a version of this article first appeared on TTAC