bao 630 1

General Motors, via its joint venture with SAIC and Wuling in China, will begin exporting a version of the Baojun 630 sedan to North Africa late this year. The car, which sits on the old Buick Excelle platform, will be badged as the Chevrolet Optra in the African region.

GM’s Wuling JV launched the Baojun brand in 2011 to penetrate China’s entry-level market for passenger cars. Its first product, the 630 sedan, has been designed to attract young drivers in the country’s second- and third-tier cities, primarily the middle-class crowd in its vast interior.

Baojun, which means “treasured horse”, also sells the Le Chi minicar, a localised version of the previous-gen Chevrolet Spark. An MPV and a hatchback will be added to the Baojun range next year.

Unlike many local Chinese brands, Baojun is growing. For the first nine months of 2013, Baojun sales in China rose nearly 28% to 69,187 units. The JV already exports the Wuling Rong Guang minivan and the Hong Guang MPV to various markets, and this new 630/Chevy Optra deal will further boost figures.