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Global automakers unveil local China brands in Shanghai

Some of the new Chinese cars unveiled at last week’s Shanghai Auto Show are affordable for millions of buyers — a happy development for Beijing that might prove costly for the global automakers producing them.

Some of the new Chinese cars unveiled at last week’s Shanghai Auto Show are affordable for millions of buyers — a happy development for Beijing that might prove costly for the global automakers producing them.

General Motors Co. unveiled the 630 sedan, the first model from its new Baojun badge developed with Chinese joint venture partners. The four-door is based on an older GM car and will have a sticker price of 70,000 to 100,000 yuan ($10,200 US to $14,600 US).

Honda Motor Co. displayed the plain, compact four-door S1 at the auto show, the first from its new Everus line, which went on sale this week. Nissan Motor Co. showed off an unnamed car it plans to sell under the Venucia brand next year.

These so-called “indigenous” brands will only be sold in China and their prices are aimed at a segment of the market that is already crowded with cars from lesser known Chinese brands.

They will also be in competition with the foreign automakers’ existing entry-level models.

Car makers say they are introducing the nameplates with their Chinese joint venture partners so they can tap growth from China’s expanding middle class.

But industry watchers say it’s a new tactic by China’s government, which is unhappy with the failure of state-owned automakers to gain significant market share for Chinese brands since partnering with foreigners.

Manufacturing Chinese models is the “new cost of market access” for global automakers, said Mike Dunne, whose consultancy, Dunne & Co., specializes in Asia’s auto markets.

“Beijing’s not happy,” so authorities drew up a new set of rules that would require automakers to share their technology if they want to expand in China, said Dunne.

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