The History of BAIC: 1958-2010

Where BAIC All Started: A History from 1958 to 2010

Where BAIC All Started: A History from 1958 to 2010

The car manufacturer BAIC is becoming a household name but has been around a lot longer than one might realise. Founded in 1958, it has grown to exceed global sales of 3 million annually and in September 2023 BAIC Motor announced that its cumulative vehicle sales for the first nine months of the year was expected to surge by 69% year on year!

In Part 1 of our BAIC History blog series – we take a look at the BAIC Group’s history and all the milestones they have reached along the way from 1958 until 2010.

What Is The BAIC Group?

Beijing Automotive Group Co., Ltd. is a Chinese state-owned automobile manufacturer now headquartered in Shunyi, Beijing. The company produces and sells vehicles under its branding as well as under foreign-branded joint ventures such as Beijing-Benz and Beijing-Hyundai, and in fact, has a long history of partnerships with quality brands.

BAIC also produces electric vehicles under some of the previously listed brandings, including dedicated Electric Vehicle brands. Its principal subsidiaries include the passenger car maker BAIC Motor; military vehicle and light truck maker BAW; and truck, bus, and agricultural equipment maker, Foton Motor.

China’s First Locally-Produced Passenger Car

Initially started as Beijing Automotive Works (BAW), BAIC repaired Soviet-built vehicles and found success in producing the Dongfanghong BJ760, a vehicle based on the Soviet GAZ-21.

In 1959, BAW began manufacturing its cars and built China’s first domestically built passenger car – the Beijing SH760. Known as ‘Jinggangshan’, after the Jinggang Mountains, it symbolised China’s efforts to build an indigenous auto industry with Soviet help during the early Communist era under Mao. The sedan was based on the Soviet Moskvich 402 model and was aimed at government officials along with a few commercial buyers as private car ownership was rare at that time.

Manufacturer of Tough Working Vehicles

In 1966 the BJ212 off-road vehicle was independently developed by BAIC and officially put into production. It was a long-lived off-road utility vehicle that served Chinese government and military needs for over two decades!

BAIC also produced a light utility truck called BJ130, based on the BJ120 light truck which was a licensed version of the Isuzu Elf first-generation truck.

Partnerships and Joint Ventures

In 1973 the predecessor of today’s BAIC Group, Beijing Automotive Engineering Company (BAECO), was formally established.

A big point of growth for the corporation came in 1983 when it partnered with American Motors (AMC) to produce the Beijing Jeep BJ2022 for military use. This was the first Sino-foreign joint venture in the manufacturing of complete vehicles for the Chinese automotive industry.

In 1984, BAIC partnered with Mercedes-Benz to assemble and manufacture E-Class models in China through a 50/50 joint venture called Beijing Benz Automotive Co. Beijing Benz started off assembling E-Class models from complete knock-down (CKD) kits shipped from Germany. The joint venture allowed Mercedes-Benz to gain access to the Chinese market while BAIC obtained technology transfer and production know-how.

In 1987, BAIC collaborated with Chrysler to produce the Beijing Jeep 2500 series utility vehicles. The joint venture gave BAIC access to Jeep technology to produce durable commercial-oriented vehicles like the 2500 series.

In the 1990s, BAIC began making Hyundai Elantra models under licence from Hyundai and obtained rights to assemble previous-generation Elantras at its facilities in China. The first Hyundai model produced was the Elantra J4, which was the codename for the fourth-generation Elantra sedan.

First Auto Listed Company in China!

In 1994 BAIC became the first listed company among the vehicle manufacturing enterprises in China’s automobile industry.

In 2002 BAIC Group and South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Company signed a comprehensive strategic cooperation agreement in Beijing. Beijing Hyundai Motor Co., Ltd. became the first complete automobile manufacturing joint venture after China acceded to the WTO.

In 2006 BAIC started production at its upgraded Dingzhou manufacturing base in Hebei province. The Dingzhou base represented a 1.5-billion yuan investment and covered over 10 square kilometres! The new facility cemented BAIC’s position as a major domestic automaker with large-scale manufacturing capabilities.

In 2010 BAIC Motor was incorporated as a sub-holding company of the BAIC Group. This meant that BAIC Motor became responsible for the operation of all BAIC’s car manufacturing facilities and business. The incorporation of BAIC Motor was a strategic move to focus BAIC’s passenger vehicle resources into a distinct entity in preparation for a public listing.

In 2010, BAIC produced over 1 million vehicles, making it one of the top 10 largest automakers in China that year! The 1 million included models under its brands such as Beijing, Senova, BJ, and Wevan, as well as JV partners Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz and Jeep.

It seems 2010 ushered in a new era for BAIC and an exciting future! Want to find out how things progressed from 2010 onwards? Read Part 2 of our BAIC History series.

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