Tag Archives: auto

Bugatti Opens First Showroom Outside France In Beijing

Luxury Carmaker Builds Showroom On Jinbao Street In Response To Growing Chinese Demand

Bugatti's choice to open a showroom in Beijing shows the company's intention to expand in the China market

Bugatti's choice to open a showroom in Beijing shows the company's intention to expand in the China market

China’s growing automotive demand has been great for automakers of all stripes, from up-and-coming budget domestic brands to the world’s most expensive and exclusive marks. Already this year, companies like Japan’s Mitsuoka Motor Co have announced their intentions to build showrooms in China, Porsche debuted its Panamera Turbo at the Shanghai Auto Show, Ferrari created a China-only version of its 599 GTB Fiorano, and Rolls Royce received 20 orders for its $250,000 Ghost after presenting the automobile in Hong Kong.

Now Bugatti, the high performance French automaker, has opened its first-ever showroom outside of France, located on Beijing’s swanky Jinbao Street. From Alibaba News:

“The opening of the show room, the first one in the world, shows Bugatti’s confidence in China‘s luxury carmarket, “said Mr Kuo-chung, President of Bugatti China. 

Kuo-chung said backed by sustained economic boom, China now has a significant number of billionaires, pointing to the annual Hurun Report which said China now has more known dollar billionaires than any other country bar the United States.

Luxury Car Sector Continues To Thrive in China

New Models, Stimulus Package Continue To Drive Growth In World’s Top Automotive Market Despite Global Woes

China is one of Audi's most reliable and profitable markets; As Chinese luxury auto brands emerge, will they retain their dominance?

China is one of Audi's most reliable and profitable markets; As Chinese luxury auto brands emerge, will they retain their dominance?

The sustained growth seen in the Chinese automotive market over the last year has shown that the vast Chinese market — vast both in size and in potential customers — still has plenty of room to grow. For luxury carmakers, who’ve had a tough year in markets like North America and Europe, recent figures that show Chinese buyers are still motivated to part with their cash are welcome, to say the least, as formerly reliable customers in the US and other major economies think twice before signing on the dotted line.

According to this Wall Street Journal Asia article, growth in the Chinese market has been unprecedented in recent months for foreign luxury automakers, and with the stimulus package — aimed at infrastructure projects — taking effect, companies like Audi (a favorite of China’s government elite), BMW (the flashy entrepreneur’s choice) and Mercedes (the mark of a true “sophisticate” in China) expect to see their fortunes continue in the years ahead:

Audi’s sales in China rose 37% in September from a year earlier to more than 15,000 cars, marking a new record level in terms of monthly vehicle sales, the Ingolstadt, Germany-based auto maker said.

In the January-to-September period, Audi’s sales totaled 108,859 vehicles in China, up 20% from a year earlier.

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BYD’s Wang Chuanfu Tops China’s Rich List On Heels Of Buffett Investment

Wang Jumps 102 Spots To Head The Hurun Report’s “Rich List”; Now Worth $5.1 Billion

BYD's Wang Chuanfu is now worth over US $5 billion, putting him at the top of China's "Rich List"

BYD's Wang Chuanfu is now worth over US $5 billion, putting him at the top of China's "Rich List"

Last week, we saw what the endorsement of a financial heavyweight like Warren Buffett can do for a little-known Chinese company, with the stock of Dayang Trands skyrocketing 71% following Buffett’s praises of the company’s bespoke suits. In the automotive sector, today China Herald (via Bloomberg) points out that Buffett’s investment in previously low-key Chinese battery and hybrid/electric car maker BYD has not only given the brand global visibility, it has made the company’s head, Wang Chuanfu, a very rich man and putting him at the top of the Hurun Report’s China Rich List beating China’s longtime #1, Zhang Yin.

[Wang’s] wealth jumped to $5.1 billion, exceeding Nine Dragons Paper Holdings Ltd. founder Zhang Yin’s $4.9 billion, according to an e-mailed statement from the Hurun Report today.

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Japan’s Mitsuoka Motor Co. To Enter Chinese Market

Japanese Luxury Automaker Plans To Open Beijing Showroom By Q1 2010

The Mitsuoka Orochi will retail for around 800,000 RMB (US $117,177) in China when it arrives next year

The Mitsuoka Orochi will retail for around 800,000 RMB (US $117,177) in China when it arrives next year

The growing Chinese luxury market is a prime target for many Asian companies that have found demand in their home countries — mainly South Korea and Japan — either growing at a snail’s pace or simply remaining stagnant. As formerly luxury-mad consumers in traditional markets like Japan cut back on their spending, high-end Japanese companies have started to look abroad for more opportunities, with China remaining the natural choice as a result of its proximity and massive population.

Recently, Japan’s Mitsuoka Motor Co., one of the country’s major luxury automakers, announced their plans to enter the Chinese market next year, starting with a showroom in Beijing that is slated to open in April. To lead their China efforts, the company will display their Orochi model at next year’s Beijing Auto Show and follow up their Beijing strategy with new dealerships in other top-tier cities:

The Orochi will spearhead Mitsuoka’s debut into China. The company plans to display the car at next year’s Beijing Auto Show, and to open dealerships in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

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Bentley Mulsanne: One Eye On The China Market?

Will Bentley Follow The Success Of Rolls-Royce In The Chinese Market? Or Will More Chinese Luxury Buyers Opt For Rival Brands?

The Bentley Mulsanne includes many features popular in the Chinese market, such as a spacious interior and chauffeur-ready driver's seat

The Bentley Mulsanne includes many features popular in the Chinese market, such as a spacious interior and chauffeur-ready driver's seat

As we’ve pointed out time and time again, with the global doldrums cutting into the vehicle budgets of many luxury consumers in developed markets like North America, Japan and Europe, high-end car companies like Rolls-Royce have increasingly looked to emerging markets like China to get them through the economic crisis and create a new, loyal buyer’s market. As Chinese luxury models become more prevalent (and popular) over time and truly begin to rival the dominant luxury models by BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, automakers at the highest end are already starting to plan ahead for a strong China strategy to ensure their brands remain at the top of the heap for years to come.

Following the lead of the 2010 Porsche Panamera, which was unveiled at this year’s Shanghai Auto Show, Bentley has taken the lid off of its 2011 Mulsanne, with what is sure to be an eye towards the Chinese market — where the country’s ultra-rich still have no domestic alternative that can match Bentley quality. After making its initial debut in August, the Mulsanne has become the talk of the high-end luxury scene, not least because it is the first all-new Bentley model to roll off the production line since the 1930s. As Motor Authority writes, though this car is most certainly beyond the budgets of most lustful car enthusiasts, it is a sight to behold and has an engine to match:

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Can Chinese Luxury Cars Catch On In America?

Recent Interest By Chinese Automakers In Established Brands Like Volvo, Saab Show Their Global Ambitions; But Will Western Consumers Choose To “Drive Chinese”?

Can BYD crack the American luxury car market? Only time will tell.

Can BYD crack the American luxury car market? Only time will tell.

With well-known auto brands like Sweden’s Volvo and Saab up for sale, Chinese brands Geely, Beijing Automotive and FAW — relative unknowns in the global car market — have been in the news as possible suitors. It is no secret that Chinese automakers have their sights set on the export market, and want to see their vehicles gain popularity on lucrative markets like North America. Here, though, is the largest opportunity as well as the most significant challenge faced by Chinese car brands, a bit of a catch-22: while China is the world’s largest auto market — owing, naturally, to its vast population — Chinese car companies need to develop their luxury fleets and export more in order to turn a substantial profit, but for higher-priced vehicles, Chinese consumers virtually always choose foreign-made automobiles, and Chinese brands are almost completely unknown by luxury car buyers abroad.

At the same time, Chinese carmakers must come up against biases about the perceived quality of their products — fostered, perhaps in a large proportion, by the fact that Chinese brands have absolutely no brand equity abroad, since:

1.) most of these companies are only a few years old, and

2.) reports about Chinese-made vehicles tend to be on the sensationalist side and focus on a quality gap or on perceived “counterfeiting” of car models. While many of the problems faced by Chinese carmakers abroad boil down to sloppy or simply “bad” PR, it is, in some ways, understandable that non-Chinese car buyers know little about Chinese car companies — because many Chinese car buyers don’t know much about them either. Quite simply, they need to work harder to differentiate themselves, pin down strong brand messaging, and really push hard to ensure they conform to all safety and emissions standards — or exceed them.

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Automotive Brand-Building In China: Opportunities And Challenges Abound

Western, Chinese Brands Vie For Customer Loyalty As Emerging Middle Class And “Nouveau Riche” Demand Continues To Grow

Buick has capitalized on its reputation for quality and luxury in the Chinese market, enjoying massive success and launching China-only models like the Excelle

Buick has capitalized on its reputation for quality and luxury in the Chinese market, enjoying massive success and launching China-only models like the Excelle

As demand for new vehicles has remained sluggish in developed markets over the past two years, major automakers have rightly looked to retool their strategies to draw customers and build their brands in new markets. As we’ve written before, selling your brand in markets like China, where customers expect different things — and derive status from very specific brand attributes —  represents both a major opportunity and a new challenge. A good example of an automaker that has benefitted from the “blank slate” allowed it by entry into the young Chinese market is Buick, which has a reputation as a car for older, or middle-aged, drivers in its native market, the USA, yet has — through aggressive branding and advertising efforts — developed a reputation as a sleek, luxurious, youthful brand in the Chinese market.

So how can car brands optimize their brand equity in China? Depending on where they come from, their strategies differ greatly. While American car makers like Ford have had great success in overseas markets like Europe by pushing their reliability and value, in the Chinese market imported cars are, generally, chosen by buyers to be a status symbol, rather than “inexpensive.” Ford, then, cannot compete on price alone, as Chinese automakers like Chery and Geely — which have sizeable lineups of entry-level models — will always be able to undercut them. As a result, it is important for foreign car makers to not just build their brand in China, but to build a strong brand in China, one that speaks to Chinese consumers in a way that domestically-produced autos cannot. To break it down further, foreign automakers need to build a strong, distinctive brand — a German car must fit Chinese conceptions of German cars, Japanese cars Japanese attributes and so on.

In practice, how are foreign automakers faring in their Chinese branding strategies? Today, Reuters looks into the “uphill road” these brands are traveling in China, and how they have refocused their branding strategies to varying degrees of success. Using the example of a “nouveau riche” car buyers who has traded his BMW in for an Audi  — since the Audi has developed a strong reputation in China as a car for bureaucrats or (comparatively) “old money” while BMW is considered a brand for the nouveau riche (a group into which the buyer in question is loath to be grouped) — the article provides valuable insight into the particularities of a market so new that even seasoned marketers and branding execs are often at a loss to develop long-term strategies.

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