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GM Launches China-Only Baojun Brand

Baojun 630

 (GM)

The name means "treasure horse" in Chinese, but General Motors is hoping will turn out to be a cash cow.

Today GM launched its new China-only Baojun brand with sales of a low-priced sedan designed specifically for the quickly emerging market. Through its partnerships, the automaker currently builds and sells more cars in China than it does in the United States.

Read: General Motors Helping to Design the City of the Future...in China

The Baojun 630 is initially being targeted at drivers in the country's second and third tier cities outside the major markets of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, GM said in a news release. Other cities will be targeted at a later date, it said.

Global automakers are looking to China to boost sales amid weak demand in the developed world, and are increasingly focusing on smaller inland cities that have been overlooked in the drive to snag wealthy customers along the more prosperous coast.

Auto sales in China last year climbed 32 percent to 18 million vehicles.

Other automakers are also increasingly tailoring their production to the Chinese market. Nissan Motor Co. is planning to offer a China-produced electric car to be sold under the low-priced Venucia brand, part of an $8 billion expansion plan with local partner Dongfeng Group.

GM's Baojun 630 will be equipped with a 1.5-liter engine and come in three models that range in price from 62,800 to 73,800 yuan ($9,760 to $11,470), the company said.

GM sells passenger cars and commercial vehicles in China under the Baojun, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Jiefang, Opel and Wuling brands. The company reported sales of more than 2.35 million vehicles in China last year, up 28.8 percent over 2009, claiming the top spot among global automakers in the country for the sixth year in a row.

GM's China ventures sold a record 1.27 million vehicles in the first half of this year, though growth slowed sharply from the double-digit pace of recent years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report