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
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:
Posted in Automobile, Business, China, Luxury
Tagged Audi, auto, automotive, bentley, bentley mulsanne, bmw, car, China, chinese, ferrari, mercedes, mulsanne, porsche, rolls-royce, sports, vehicle
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
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?
Posted in Automobile, Business, China, Luxury
Tagged Audi, audo, auto, automotive, bmw, BYD, car, chang'an, China, chinese, concept, luxury car, mercedes
Eighth-Largest Chinese Automaker Rumored To Be In Market For Second JV Partner, After Successful Linkup With BMW
Brilliance Auto is looking to spread its manufacturing base rapidly to compete with larger domestic rivals
The auto blog China Car Times (via China Daily) reports that Brilliance China Auto, China’s eighth-largest automaker, may form a new joint venture focused on commercial vehicles with Mercedes-Benz. China Car times notes that the potential joint venture would have a target production rate of 40,000 vehicles per year.
While the laws surrounding foreign-Chinese joint ventures are somewhat murky — with conflicting reports suggesting that foreign companies are unable to form more than one such venture in China at a time (a potential problem for Daimler, which is already linked with Beijing Auto Works) — China Daily’s report seems relatively optimistic that the Mercedes-Brilliance alliance will move ahead:
Brands Spending Heavily On Advertising, Brand Messaging To Maintain Strong Growth In Competitive Developing Markets
The Luxury Institute's results seem to indicate that luxury brands with a strong foothold in China will need to work harder to maintain their dominance
This week, the Luxury Institute published its list of the top luxury brands in China, as ranked by Chinese high-net-worth consumers. While the results are not terribly surprising — as the “Best of the Best” probably don’t differ dramatically from any other major luxury market — it is still important to see that traditional favorites like Louis Vuitton (for women) and Dunhill (for men) have slipped a bit. This (to me, at least) gives an indication that brands which have developed strong footholds in the Chinese market throughout the late ’80s and ’90s are giving luxury shoppers in China a bit of “luxury fatigue.”
Possibly driven by younger luxury shoppers in the cosmopolitan east (where consumers are generally more trendy as well as picky), the split between brand lust in first- and second-tier cities must be growing nearly as fast as the advertising expenditures. Unfortunately, the Luxury Institute’s results do not break the survey down into regional variations, so I’m basing all of this on my own observations and opinions.
Posted in Automobile, Business, China, Culture, Fashion, Luxury
Tagged armani, asia, bmw, China, ferragamo, gucci, hermes, Luxury, mercedes, paul smith, porsche, prada
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)
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:
Posted in Automobile, Business, China, Economy, Investment, Luxury
Tagged Audi, automobiles, bmw, cars, China, germany, Luxury, mercedes, volvo
Luxury Carmaker Sells Over 5,000 Units In May, Breaking Monthly Sales Records For Third Consecutive Month
Daimler hopes growing demand in China will offset plummeting demand in developed markets
China Knowledge reports on findings by Mercedes-Benz that China remains one of the luxury carmaker’s sole global bright spots amid the ongoing economic downturn. Figures from Mercedes show that more than 5,200 Mercedes and Smart cars were sold in China last month, which the automaker attributed mainly to their “broad product line-up” and growing brand appeal in the Mainland market.
Posted in Automobile, China, Economy, Luxury
Tagged benz, China, chinese, daimler, market, mercedes, mercedes-benz, smart
Formerly Budget-Focused Brands Like Geely Shifting To Lucrative High-End Consumer Segment
The Chinese middle class is an important and growing consumer segment, and Chinese domestic brands are increasingly relying on this group's future purchasing power to drive global growth
The Wall Street Journal has a great profile today about Chinese auto brands that have shifted 180 degrees in the last few years, changing their target market from the younger, budget-conscious first-time car buyer to wealthier buyers who may already own one or more vehicles. This represents a very significant change in tactic on the part of Chinese automakers, who until recently had all but given up on this consumer bracket, apparently convinced that it would be impossible to compete with foreign luxury carmakers like Mercedes and BMW, two brands that have made commanding inroads in the China market.
Posted in Automobile, Business, China, Economy, Luxury
Tagged Automobile, benz, bmw, BYD, chery, China, ford, geely, Luxury, mercedes, porsche, saab, vehicle, wealth