Volkswagen building budget car family planned for China in 2018

Volkswagen has publicly pondered a low-cost car for China, something akin to Nissan’sDatsun revival in Southeast Asia, for at least three years. In 2013 it tapped Chinese partner FAW to help develop an entire budget brand, with plans to have something on the market in 2016 in the 6,000- to 8,000-euro range. About a year ago, VW said it couldn’t figure out how to engineer an inexpensive car that didn’t run counter to the brand’s values, then three weeks later said it had overcome the issues.

Reuters now reports that VW CEO Martin Winterkorn told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, “We will bring a budget-car family to market in 2018, with an SUV, saloon and hatchback.” Winterkorn didn’t offer any other details like who VW would work with to build it – VW has partnerships with both FAW and SAIC, but the announcement will be welcomed by the brand’s Chinese outpost.

When this adventure started, VW said it was working to create a model that would cost 6,000 to 8,000 euro. That estimate has increased. Winterkorn is now saying the 2018 offerings will come in between 8,000 and 11,000 euro. In a straight euro-to-yuan conversion, that would equate to Chinese pricing of 56,000 to 77,000 yuan. For comparison, the New Polo with a 1.4-liter engine and a manual transmission starts at 85,900 yuan. Perhaps with an eye on the success of the NissanRenault sub-brand Dacia in Europe and emerging markets, Winterkorn told Bild, “We will see if this is something of interest for other markets as well.”

On the opposite end of the price/performance spectrum, Winterkorn also said that VW is working on two new models for Bugatti, one powered by a traditional gasoline engine and another with some sort of hybrid setup. The latter model would reportedly be the higher-performing of the two, though it’s not clear whether there would be two vehicle lines or two versions of the same vehicle. As ever, as soon as we know more, so will you.