by Gunnar Heinrich ::: img withdrawn Citroën advert via Jack Yan’s Blog ::: 2010 Beijing Motor Show
CAR companies are falling over themselves to cater exclusively to the Chinese consumer this year; 2010 being the first full year that the PRC counts as the world’s largest automotive market.
As an American consumer, I feel a little slighted. What have we been all these years, chopped liver?
Let’s leave the political, economic, and perhaps social ramifications of this attention shift aside, and also that little factor that we might all be at war over Taiwan, Near-East oil, or somebody’s loss of face inside 20 years, and consider that the US car market, perhaps still the world’s most lucrative in terms of real dollars and cents, has seldom in recent times been the platform for such grand débuts or special acknowledgments by foreign car makers.
Here’s an informal rundown of pre-Beijing Motor Show announcements:
- BMW announced a solely-for-China Long-Wheelbase 5-Series
- Mercedes said they’d début the CLS Shooting Brake Concept (at the New York Auto Show, their big announcement was the updated R-Class – joy!)
- Ferrari’s billing it’s new 599GTO as its “fastest road car ever”
- VW will show off its new flagship Phaeton
- Citroën announced the Metropolis concept, designed and built in China
- Maybach’s unveiling its fresh new face to its über-saloon at Beijing (again, why not NY?)
- Bentley’s press release read “EXCLUSIVELY FOR CHINA” as they announced the Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed China (say that ten times fast in Mandarin) and the Continental GT Design Series China
And so on and so forth. Yes, China is presently the great new over-heated economic frontier.
That said, let’s not forget that India and Brazil are also emerging as meaty new markets, too. And neither of these countries’ governments force foreign car companies to embed with domestic car makers.
You know, once you share trade secrets with your corporate partner, when you’re no longer a collaborative force the other party tends to remember all your best plays.
Given that Chinese corporate culture is as transparent as dragon scales and that the government’s penchant for subversive market intervention is quite real (Google), there’s a distinctly awful possibility that the auto industry’s zealous forays into the Land of Mao could backfire horribly in years to come.
Ah, well. We live to learn don’t we?