- Published on Tuesday, 01 May 2012 00:00
By A Web design Company
BEIJING — Han Zhongping, a 38-year-old coal mine owner who has four luxury cars and is in the market for another, looked at BMW’s latest sedans at this week’s Beijing auto show and said what he wants is simple.
“The most expensive is the best,” said Han, from the northwestern town of Yulin in China’s coal fields. His stable of cars already includes models from BMW and Mercedes-Benz, all bought for cash.
“We Chinese like the show of grandeur,” he said. “Finally we’ve got some money, and we want to show it off.”
Luxury automakers from Mercedes-Benz to Cadillac to Japan’s Infiniti see China’s newly rich buyers like Han as a big part of their future. They are designing models for Chinese tastes and shifting some production to this country as its rapid growth mints tens of thousands of new millionaires.
Luxury sales are buoyant despite a slump in China’s car market. They surged 21 percent in the first quarter over a year ago, according to JD Power & Associates, while the overall market grew just 2 percent. Analysts foresee strong growth for years to come, with luxury sales rising from 1 million vehicles last year to as much as 3 million by 2025.
“People really want to show off their social status,” said Lin Huaibin, chief China auto forecaster for IHS Automotive.
Automakers are launching models with bigger rear seats for Chinese buyers who ride in back and have drivers — or want to pamper their passengers. Audi’s A6L has rear-seat teacup warmers and massage units. Rear passengers in BMW AG’s 3-series can push a button to move the front passenger seat for still more legroom.
Manufacturers are shifting production to China to avoid high import duties or ramping up output at existing operations.
General Motors Co.’s Cadillac and Nissan Motor Co.’s Infiniti announced plans this week for their first China factories, joining German vals that have made cars here for much of the past decade. BMW is adding a second factory and a design studio.