China Car History: the Yunque GHK7070

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Subaru cancelled plans to secure a new joint venture in China because it sadly seems unlikely they will ever succeed. Subaru did make cars in China from 1989 until 2005 with the Yungque-Subaru joint venture, Chinese partner was the military-airplane maker Guizhou Aircraft Industry Corporation (GAIC). The joint venture made the Yunque GHK7071-series based on the Subaru Rex and this Yunqu GHK7070-series based on the Subaru Vivio.

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Production started in 1995 and lasted until 2003. The GHK7070 was much less a success than the GHK7071 which at one moment even made it to dealers in the capital Beijing, where I almost bought one, ten years ago. The GHK7070 however was mostly sold in its home-province Guizhou and surrounding areas, it didn’t reach the big cities on the east coast. Only some 12.000 cars were made in 8 years, in 2003 just 1296 GHK7070’s were sold and Subaru pulled the plug.

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The Yungque GHK7070 was powered by the same 0.658 liter 4-cylinder that powered the Subaru Vivio. Power: 40hp and 53nm. Top speed: 138km/h. 0-100: 21 seconds. The 7070 was only available with front-wheel drive, where the Vivio could also be had with four-wheel drive. Transmission was a 5-speed manual. Size: 3295/1395/1375, wheelbase was 2310.

Blue GHK7070 likely a more expensive version with sporty alloys and bumpers in the same color as the body. The most basic GHK7070 was priced at 42.000 yuan (1998), and that made the 7070 one of the cheapest vehicles on the Chinese auto market at the time.

Things didn’t work out because of the continues infighting between Subaru and GAIC. They were at war on investments, which cars to make, who got what, where to sell; well, you name it. The China-made cars furthermore didn’t meet Subaru’s quality norms and the Japanse were unable to force a change. The joint venture completely died in 2005 when Subaru simply walked out. I guess some at Subaru feel very sorry for that decision now…

Most Yungque GHK7070’s have long disappeared, left to rot on the side of the road or killed by the crusher. Some people however love their little Yunque, this nicely modified example lives somewhere near Guangzhou.

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  1. Subaru needn’t have regrets about the decision to withdraw since this was a losing proposition from the start, and AVI China (GAIC’s parent) ended up divesting itself of all its automaking interests in 2009. Successor Zhejiang Youngman also had no luck with this plant location, as its planned venture with Iran Khodro went no where.
    Subaru would have been better off signing on with someone up north, and closer to home, like Polarsun, Hafei,or even Shuguang. It’s too bad, as Subaru’s light weight, all-wheel-drive, technology would have been just right for China. But in view of the current nosedive in Japanese car sales, they probably see that failed venture as good fortune in the wake of bad.


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