A saloon and two Jetta SUVs will go on sale later this year.

Volkswagens are popular in China. The automaker sold 3.1 million cars in the country last year, making it VW’s largest market. Additionally, VW is also China’s largest car brand in terms of sales, so the manufacturer certainly has more than a passing interest in building vehicles for Chinese customers. Despite the unstoppable SUV onslaught, the face of VW in China has long been the venerable Jetta, where the Mk2 version of the compact sedan was actually built through 2010. Now, VW is hoping to play off that branding by launching an entire Jetta brand later this year exclusively for the Chinese market.

“In China, the Jetta plays an extremely valuable role for us as a Volkswagen model,” said Jürgen Stackmann, VW board of management member responsible for sales. “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.”

Gallery: Jetta brand China

While many automakers are relatively new to the Chinese market, Volkswagen Group China actually formed back in 1985. The second-generation Jetta went into production through VW’s FAW-Volkswagen Chinese partnership in 1991, built in-country with various facelifts through 2010. Recast as a brand, Jetta will build a single saloon and two SUVs produced by FAW-Volkswagen and sold through a new Jetta dealership network with approximately 200 locations. Included in the dealership plan are innovative approaches including digital showrooms and shopping mall locations, along with traditional stores.

Jetta sales are slated to begin in the third quarter of this year.

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JETTA to become new brand of Volkswagen in China

With the new JETTA Brand, Volkswagen intends to exploit its market potential in China even more effectively. In many cities with millions of people outside the metropolitan regions such as Beijing or Shanghai, vehicle ownership levels are still very low, in some cases below 100 cars per 1,000 inhabitants. At the same time, members of a growing middle class are striving for individual mobility with the first car of their own. With the new JETTA brand, Volkswagen especially intends to target these young Chinese customers. The JETTA model range, which is to be produced by FAW-Volkswagen in Chengdu, will include one sedan and two SUVs. Sales are scheduled to start in the third quarter of this year.