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Who says sedans are dead?

Apr 13, 2020

  • Volkswagen is the most popular car brand on the Chinese market
  • In 2019, Volkswagen sold more than 1.6 million sedans in the compact segment, with six models to choose from
  • Market overview: Following the COVID-19 pandemic, there are signs that the Chinese market is easing—production of vehicles and components has resumed at almost all of Volkswagen’s Chinese sites

Wolfsburg, Germany – European customers love compact hatchbacks like the Golf, which has been at the top of vehicle registration statistics for more than four decades. In contrast, the world market is dominated by compact sedans. Worldwide, they account for almost one third of all deliveries to Volkswagen customers—with 1.6 million vehicles sold in China alone. A total of six models are offered there to satisfy the high demand. A market overview of the vehicles sold exclusively on the Chinese market gives a detailed insight into the differences between the models.

Spacious cabins and trunk space are important to Chinese car buyers, which helps explain why the sedan segment is way more important than the hatchback one. Volkswagen satisfies this need with a range of models developed exclusively for this market. Through the SAIC-Volkswagen and FAW-Volkswagen joint ventures and the JETTA sub-brand, Volkswagen offers six individual models geared to the customers’ tastes in this key segment.

In its largest single market, the Volkswagen brand grew its market share in 2019 with these vehicles.


The JETTA sub-brand was launched in 2019. It is the first time in Volkswagen’s history that a model—in this case the Jetta notchback sedan, which has been extremely successful in China for a number of years—has become an independent sub-brand with its own dealership network. Adding together the sales figures for the previous version of the Jetta with the JETTA VA3 shows that more than 145,000 units were delivered to customers during 2019, the transition year. The VA3 vehicles are produced in Chengdu. The Chinese model shares only a name with the Jetta sold in North and South America. At 177 inches long, it is considerably more compact, has a 110-horsepower 1.5-liter naturally aspirated engine, and is aimed primarily at younger first-time buyers.

FAW-Volkswagen Sagitar

FAW-Volkswagen has been manufacturing the Sagitar since 2006, with production now based in Changchun and Chengdu. It is based on the MQB architecture and is available either with a 114-hp 1.2-liter TSI® engine or with a 148-hp 1.4-liter TSI turbocharged gasoline engine. Since 2019, the third-generation Sagitar has a 107.5-inch long wheelbase, compared to the U.S. Jetta’s 105.7-in wheelbase. In 2019, some 310,000 customers opted for the Sagitar, of which more than 176,000 chose the new model.

SAIC Volkswagen Lamando

The Lamando has been produced in China by SAIC Volkswagen since November 2014. It is a widebody four-door notchback coupe (71.7 inches). The model is also built on the MQB platform and has an overall length of 181.1 inches combined with a wheelbase of 104.3 inches and a height of 55.9 inches. The Lamando comes with a 1.4-liter TSI four-cylinder engine with two power options—129 hp and 148 hp, both mated to a DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission. A sporty GTS version with a 217-hp 2.0-liter TSI engine has also been on the market since 2016. More than 101,000 Lamandos were delivered in 2019.

FAW-Volkswagen Bora

The Bora has proved to be a success in China, with FAW-Volkswagen delivering 323,400 units to customers last year. It is also an MQB model and is available with either a 111-hp 1.5-liter naturally aspirated engine or with a 148-hp 1.4-liter TSI turbocharged powerplant. There is now also an electric version, called the e-Bora, that is 183.5 inches long, with a wheelbase of 105.9 inches.

SAIC Volkswagen Santana

This successful Chinese model also has nothing in common with the angular original Santana, which was based on the second-generation Passat—a familiar sight in 1980s Germany. While it has not been available in Germany since 1985, production of a notchback version continued in China, along with a wagon based on the Passat. Since 2013, there has been a version available in China that was developed specifically for the domestic market. It is 176.4 inches long, 67.3 inches wide, and sits on a 102.4 in wheelbase. Some 245,000 units were sold in China last year.

SAIC Volkswagen Lavida

The third generation of SAIC-Volkswagen’s Lavida has been on sale since May 2018. It’s another model that is available only in China. The current generation is constructed on the MQB platform and enjoys the same level of success in China as the Passat does in Germany. The Lavida was the best-selling model of all manufacturers in 2019 with 491,000 sales. It has also a 114-hp 1.5-liter naturally aspirated engine or a 148-hp 1.4-liter TSI. The Lavida is 183.9 inches long and rides on a 105.5-in wheelbase. Like the Bora, there is also an electric version, the e-Lavida, that uses the e-Golf powertrain.

More than 30 years of success in China

The Volkswagen Group produces vehicles for the Chinese market together with two joint ventures. In 2019, Volkswagen Brand and its JETTA sub-brand delivered 3.16 million vehicles in total. The company has a great history in China, with the first car, a Santana, being produced in 1983 by a joint venture which is now known as SAIC VOLKSWAGEN. FAW-Volkswagen, the second joint venture in China, produced its first car in 1991. In total, Volkswagen Group China employs more than 100,000 people in China.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Volkswagen in China to suspend production, but the automotive industry is now slowly returning to normality there. Vehicles and components are being produced at almost all Volkswagen sites again. In March, a survey conducted by the market research institute Ipsos has shown that the impact of the epidemic has changed the Chinese attitude to individual mobility. Two thirds of the 1,620 respondents who do not have a car of their own are planning to buy one within the next six months. Three out of four first-time buyers cite protection against infection as the motivation behind their purchase. The car has climbed from third to first place among China’s preferred modes of transport.


About Volkswagen

Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is an operating unit of Volkswagen Group of America and a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, with headquarters in Herndon, Virginia. Volkswagen’s operations in the United States include research and development, parts and vehicle processing, parts distribution centers, sales, marketing and service offices, financial service centers, and its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Volkswagen Group is one of the world's largest producers of passenger cars and Europe's largest automaker. Volkswagen sells the Arteon, Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport, Golf, Golf GTI, Jetta, Jetta GLI, Passat, and Tiguan vehicles through more than 600 independent U.S. dealers. Visit Volkswagen online at or to learn more.


“DSG”, “TSI”, “VW”, “Volkswagen”, all model names and the Volkswagen logo are registered trademarks of Volkswagen AG.