Sichuan Yema are a wily bunch based in Chengdu, South West China, their automotive neighbors would include FAW, FAW-VW, Chang’an and Lifan, but that hasn’t stopped them from going all gung-ho and setting up their own company in a sea of sharks. At last years Chengdu Auto Show (Yema avoids the international Beijing, Shanghai and even Guangzhou Auto Shows) the company revealed a series of cars that we had seen before, not ‘seen before’ as in already existing models from the company, we mean models we’ve seen before from other companies but wearing Yema badges.
The next in line for production at Sichuan Yema is the Toureg style vehicle. The interesting thing about Yema is that they don’t actually have a license to produce cars from the central government. Every car maker must have a license, and that license tells you what you can and cant make, perhaps it says pick up trucks, light trucks, SUV’s or passenger vehicles, if you’re a big manufacturer it will say everything, Yema of course can only make SUV’s.
So what do Yema build their SUV’s off? They use the Austin Maestro platform which was developed sometime in the late 1970′s in the UK, put into production in the early 80′s and continued to be on sale until the mid 90′s before the then MG-Rover sold off the well worn tooling and moulds to a Bulgarian company that tried to make cars but failed, later everything went to ETSONG, a cigarette make in Qingdao who tried to sell Maestro’s to an unconvinced Qingdao populace, FAW came in and bought the lot, made the Maestro for a few months before realizing it was terrible and turned the factory into a truck factory. FAW sold the tooling to Sichuan based company called Yema, and now you have the full story.
Yema might make some odd looking cars, but they are actually selling quite well in fourth, third, and even second tier cities around China. Their goal, according to their ex-GM, is to become the next Great Wall Motors, offering quality cars for peanuts. Perhaps this strategy will work, there is plenty of demand for small SUV’s in Western China.
A Toureg costs in the region of 1 million RMB in the Chinese market thanks to its imported status, but this Yema Toureg is likely to be a more affordable 100k RMB, a major saving. The downside is that the engine size is likely a 2.0L 4 cylinder than a 3.0L V6 TFSI.