Smartphone, Garden, or Car?

As the Chinese economy grows, the world’s economy falters and the auto-industry is taking notice. There are now one million millionaires in China and the Chinese middle class is roughly the size of the entire American population. One can not make these statics up. With these new developments car companies are taking notice. Take BMW, known in China as “Bao-ma”, or precious horse. BMW now has two huge factories in China and are customs making cars for the market. It is one of both tradition and modern convince. On one size the Chinese want their cars big, because they view them as a “private courtyard” according to one company insider. At the same time, the car must remain ahead of the game technologically speaking. The car must be almost a smartphone, with the ability to surf social media as well as listen to online radio. The reason for this is that in China a twenty year old is just as likely to buy a 7-series as is a fifty-year-old captain of industry. Whether or not China comes to lead the world in car innovation and design is yet to be seen, but as of right now they are on their way. Source: http://www.topgear.com/uk/car-news/report-the-shanghai-motor-show-2013-2013-04-22

5 comments to Smartphone, Garden, or Car?

  • oliver

    Chinese tastes are sure to have a strong influence in car design at home as well as abroad. From my visits to China I’ve seen numerous foreign cars adapted to the Chinese Market. I’ve seen many foreign car models with extended wheelbases made for China. For instance BMW’s which are renown for their handling dynamics offer ridiculous stretched versions of the 5 and 3 series not seen in the West. And plenty of heavy, stretched foreign luxury cars such as Mercedes, know in Chinese as “Ben Chi” or moving quite quickly have engine sizes that are hardly adequate for sport sedans. What the Chinese market looks for in a car is very different from what the American Market looks for. The Chinese are willing to pay up vast sums of cash on expensive vehicles with compromised handling and shrunken engines with absurd VAT’s tacked on. And this has the potential to frighten one. What cars will be like the Chinese population (demographics are in their favor) has more of as say in car design as buyers than Americans is a question that strikes on the issue of global American cultural dominance.

    Because it is cheaper to sell the same car in two places than to have two different versions of the same vehicle, car design will generally adapt accordingly. Some Asian countries have stringent pedestrian crash requirements that all cars must meet, which necessitate raising the hood a bit, making the car look bigger and uglier. Instead of making two different cars, one with a hood that is a couple centimeters higher than the other, carmakers just make the fatter one. If Chinese tastes stay constant, the result may be that some of the brand’s we know and love will be diluted in one way or another by car companies acquiescing to demand. I’ve read that the Chinese don’t like Cadillac’s “Art and Science” design and with GM wanting to help the brand’s image in China, I can’t imagine “Art and Science” hanging around for long.

    But I remain optimistic that in the long run Chinese input in automotive design will eventually offer valuable benefits to foreigners if they can ever get straight what a sport sedan is.

  • Some of Chinese tastes are … different. In cities cars can’t go fast, so power really isn’t an issue. On the other hand, by all reports Chinese consumers are unduly sensitive to operating costs, and so after spending a small fortune on a car don’t want to spend on gas. Small motors again. Another facet is that better off individuals are driven, they don’t drive. So the fitting out of the back seat matters a lot; Buick has done a good job with that.

  • asher

    It is also worth noting Chinese officials’ tastes in cars:

    http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/cities/chinese-officials-ditch-luxury-autos-to-raise-revenues/4010
    First, cities sell off many luxury cars after criticism

    http://adage.com/article/global-news/urged-buy-local-cars-chinese-officials-prefer-audis/240241/
    Officials cling to their Audis

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/28/world/asia/xi-jinping-imposes-austerity-measures-on-chinas-elite.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
    Less than a month after that last article was published, Xi Jinping requires all officials to carpool for short trip. They have begun using the Toyota Coaster minibus (despite it being Japanese?)

  • cookg15

    It seems that the iBeetle that I mentioned in my post will be expected to sell well in China. Although the car itself is not large, it seems to display the level of connectivity with technology that Chinese consumers desire. By branding the car as an “iCar,” it is appealing to those 20 year old consumers who would be more likely to purchase the car due to brand loyalty to Apple.

  • tyler

    One of the things I find most interesting about the emerging Chinese automative production industry is their blatant copying of cars. Because of China’s loose (or some might say non existant) copyright laws, many Chinese companies looking to enter auto production are simply stealing other companies designs! One has to wonder what other world automakers plan do do in response. Obviously, they cannot just stop selling cars to China so that they cannot be copied, but maybe they will try to encourage international governing bodies to pur pressure on the Chinese to respect intellectual property in the auto industry?

    Link with a few examples of copied cars. Quite funny:
    http://gemssty.com/2006/10/29/top-10-copycat-cars/

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