Tag Archives: auto

BMW, Mercedes and Audi May Have A New Competitor In China’s Chang’an

Chongqing-Based Automaker, Building On Additional Visibility Gained During Olympics, Eyes Luxury Segment

Chang'an's luxury concepts build on the CD101 platform unveiled earlier this year at the Shanghai Auto Show

Chang'an's luxury concepts build on the CD101 platform unveiled earlier this year at the Shanghai Auto Show

Over the last year, Chinese automakers have made a big push to gain domestic popularity and international pathways for future growth, with high-visibility announcements like Sichuan Tengzhong’s acquisition of Hummer and BYD’s plans to enter the American market as soon as 2010. These Chinese automakers have done a pretty good job of selling their lower-priced models to first-time car buyers throughout the mainland — mainly 20-something middle class workers in urban centers — but what about high end models?

While several Chinese car companies have tried to appeal to this segment in the past — with Red Flag (Hongqi) immediately springing to mind, along with the newly-unveiled Geely GE — their success can be described as mixed, at best. While Red Flag remains the car of choice for China’s government elite, among high-powered businesspeople or the otherwise well-off, the luxury car market in China remains dominated by foreign brands. Even at the highest level, Red Flag doesn’t even make the list, with the Rolls-Royce Phantom, Bentley Arnage, and Maybach making up the top three favored models in China.

According to a new article in China Car Times, however, it looks like Sichuan-based Chang’an is looking to target the domestic luxury car buyer as soon as next year. Will Chang’an have better luck reaching a wider luxury audience? From the looks of the new concept photos on CCT, it looks like they are closer than ever to becoming a true rival to Audi, BMW and Mercedes in the mainland market, at least aesthetically. Now the question, as always, remains, can Chinese carmakers once and for all rid domestic consumers of the notion that foreign car brands are superior?

Chinese High-End Consumers Reluctant To “Trade Down”

Those With A Taste For Luxury Goods In Emerging Markets Less Willing To Cut Back, HK Study Finds

While China has not remained unscathed by the global economic crisis, its luxury consumer market shows resilience in consumer confidence and willingness to shell out

While China has not remained unscathed by the global economic crisis, its luxury consumer market shows resilience in consumer confidence and willingness to shell out

One of the more surprising features of the global economic downturn, to some commentators, has been the relative health of the Asian consumer market throughout the crisis. Although developed markets like Japan and Korea have certainly been hit hard — as their high-tech and automotive export markets have declined substantially — emerging markets like Greater China and, to a lesser extent, India, where income gaps are still quite large and wealthy consumers have developed a taste for luxury goods are doing comparatively well.

This is not to say China hasn’t been hit by the slowdown — it has, as low-tech manufacturers and mass producers have, in many parts of the country, been forced to shut down or lay off thousands of workers. However, we are seeing that the specific class of Chinese luxury consumer is continuing to spend through the global recession, perhaps as a sort of badge of wealth, perhaps because these consumers just want to keep buying. There are plenty of theories why Chinese luxury consumers, unlike those in Japan and North America, aren’t waiting to buy their next handbag or car — however, one Hong Kong study in particular caught my eye:

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Is China Poised to Dominate the Electric Car Market?

Chinese Automakers Hope to Leapfrog the Competition

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Tianjin-Qingyuan: One of China's Hybrid/Electric Auto Frontrunners

Following up my last post on luxury SUVs, I noticed a rash of stories today about the opposite end of the automotive spectrum — the electric car. There has been a lot of chatter about Chinese electric cars in recent months, mainly brought on by Warren Buffett’s $232 million investment in BYD last October. Since then, there has been more talk on both sides of the Pacific Ocean about increasing production of electric and hybrid vehicles, not only for the environmental benefits they bring, but also to corner a lucrative new global market. As China’s automotive market is still relatively young, competition will be fierce between new Chinese automakers like Shenzhen-based BYD and Tianjin-based Tianjin-Qingyuan and the more established Japanese powerhouses and North American giants (if they manage to get their act together in time). No matter what, manufacturing electric and hybrid vehicles is big business, even if you just count the Chinese domestic market. And the Chinese government is making it clear that they think the country can become the world’s electric vehicle manufacturing epicenter and eclipse production from other traditional auto capitals. As the New York Times writes,

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