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Higher Import Taxes Fail To Slow Porsche’s Growth In China

High-End Buyers Unfazed By Government’s Tax Increase, Pushing Luxury Brand To Higher Sales Figures

Porsche debuted its new Panamera at the Shanghai Auto Show this year, indicating its commitment to the Chinese auto market

Porsche debuted its new Panamera at the Shanghai Auto Show this year, indicating its commitment to the Chinese auto market

If Porsche’s top executives were concerned last year when the Chinese government imposed a higher tax on high-end imported European vehicles, they can now breathe a sigh of relief, as sales figures indicate that the tax hike did nothing to slow Porsche’s growth in the mainland — and actually may have had the opposite effect. Among China’s business elite and/or nouveau riche circles, conspicuous consumption has become a way of life, and as such owning a car for which you had to pay upwards of $35,000 in import taxes alone is a good way to flaunt your cash.

As the Globe and Mail points out today, China’s import tax seems to benefit all parties involved — from the car companies who are recording record profits in China, to the government offices collecting mountains of tax revenue, to the conspicuous consumers cruising around Beijing or Shanghai in their pricey sports cars:

Shortly after the Beijing Olympic games last summer, the Chinese government slapped a hefty luxury tax on imported European cars with high-horsepower engines. Klaus Berning, the Porsche executive vice-president of sales and marketing who attended the Frankfurt Auto Show, said the tax added $35,000 (U.S.) or more to the price of a Porsche.

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German Designer Breathes Life Into Chinese Domestic Luxury Brand

Michael Michalsky Signs Development Deal With China’s Leading Sportswear Brand To Create China-Only Fashion Range

German designer Michael Michalsky sees China as a future fashion hub, rivaling Tokyo, Paris, and Milan

German designer Michael Michalsky sees China as a future fashion hub, rivaling Japan, France, and Italy

German designer Michael Michalsky, one of the country’s rising fashion stars, has recently signed a deal to produce a range of high-end sportswear, paving the way for other western designers to create China-only lines in partnership with China’s quickly-emerging domestic luxury brands. Michalsky has established himself as something of an iconoclast in European fashion, as he has set his sights primarily on the China market, rather than targeting traditional fashion centers like Milan or Paris.

As Michalsky told Deutsche Welle, his decision to focus on China’s fashion and luxury markets came naturally: “China is the most exciting market for fashion right now…The Chinese are really open to fashion, and let’s face it, the future of the world lies in this region.” Deutsche Welle’s profile of Michalsky shows a designer whose interest in the potential of the Chinese market is led as much by personal fascination as new business realities. As China’s position as one of the world’s top markets for luxury goods is heightened by falling consumption in developed countries, it seems likely that Michalsky is the first of many designers to work with Chinese luxury brands in coming years rather than an anomaly:

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Smooth Drive For Luxury Carmakers In China

Demand Continues To Grow In First- And Second-Tier Cities, As More Individuals Purchase First Automobile

China surpassed the United States as the world's biggest auto market for the first half of 2009 after June sales soared 36.5 percent from a year earlier (© Washington Post)

China surpassed the United States as the world's biggest auto market for the first half of 2009 after June sales soared 36.5 percent from a year earlier (© Washington Post)

Luxury automakers have been enthusiastic about the potential of the Chinese market for years, as the middle class began its rapid growth and more middle class individuals began to think about purchasing their first cars while wealthier individuals started “trading up” or buying their second or third vehicle. In recent months, as demand for higher-end automobiles shrank in developed markets, automakers have increasingly relied upon growth in the Chinese mainland to tide them over until higher profits started to show again in other areas. As growth there continues to lag, the Chinese market is increasingly looking like the true engine of sales for the short- to medium-term. Sensing this, the shift in automakers’ collective consciousness has turned distinctly eastward.

The Chinese market was, until recently, a blank slate for luxury carmakers. Until well into the 1990s, personal automobiles were still the domain of wealthy or powerful individuals, as China’s middle class was negligible in size. Through the post-WTO years, however, automobile segments from budget to luxury have seen strong growth, particularly in urban centers, where cars are both a luxury (as most megacities have relatively good, albeit crowded, public transportation) and a status symbol. Today, China Daily features an article about how steady growth of car ownership — especially higher-end cars — should buoy most luxury automakers for the time being, granted they retool their marketing and their product offerings for the mainland market:

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