Posts Tagged ‘cars’

In China, Car Brands Evoke an Unexpected Set of Stereotypes

No Comments » Written on February 1st, 2012 by
Categories: China, USA
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BEIJING — Cars in the United States tend to come fully equipped with stereotypes. Ford Crown Victoria: law enforcement professional. Toyota Prius: upscale yuppie environmentalist. Hummer: gas-guzzling egotist.

In China, where the market for imported passenger cars dates back only about three decades, an entirely alternate set of stereotypes is taking root — and the stakes have never been higher for foreign carmakers.

Take, for example, Mercedes-Benz, a brand that in much of the world suggests moneyed respectability. In China, many people think Mercedes-Benz is the domain of the retiree.

The Buick, long associated in the United States with drivers who have a soft spot for the early-bird special, is by contrast one of the hottest luxury cars in China.

But no vehicle in China has developed as ironclad a reputation as the Audi A6, the semiofficial choice of Chinese bureaucrats. From the country’s southern reaches to its northern capital, the A6’s slick frame and invariably tinted windows exude an aura of state privilege, authority and, to many ordinary citizens, a whiff of corruption.

“Audi is still the de facto car for government officials,” said Wang Zhi, a Beijing taxi driver who has been plying the capital’s gridlocked streets for 18 years. “It’s always best to yield to an Audi — you never know who you’re messing with, but chances are it’s someone self-important.”

With annual growth hovering above 30 percent in recent years, the Chinese auto market is rapidly surpassing the United States’ as the world’s most lucrative and strategically important. Last year alone, the Chinese bought an estimated 13.8 million passenger vehicles, handily topping the 11.6 million units sold in the United States. Foreign-origin brands, most of which are manufactured in China through joint ventures, accounted for 64 percent of total sales in 2010, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

For the full article, click here

By ANDREW JACOBS and ADAM CENTURY (Published: November 14, 2011)

An idea fit for the scrapheap?

No Comments » Written on August 6th, 2009 by
Categories: Germany
Tags: , , , ,

As a measure to fight the worldwide economic crisis and to support local car manufacturers, the German government introduced a scrapping premium of EUR 2,500 for cars older than 9 years.

While this has led to a short term increase in car sales, it has also had (or will have) a number of negative side effects that politicians failed to see:

  1. Independent researchers and industry experts predict a dramatic slump in car sales for 2010 when the premium programme will finish, with the risk of numerous bankruptcies among franchised dealers.
  2. It has become virtually impossible to find cheap second-hand cars in Germany, making life hard for low-income families, students etc.
  3. Second-hand car exports from Germany to Africa are at a record low, opening up this highly interesting market for other economies.
  4. Workshops specialising in the maintenance of older vehicles are losing business.
  5. Spare parts manufacturers are facing hard times, not only because of the dramatically reduced number of old cars on the road, but also due to an oversupply of second-hand spares from scrapped cars.
  6. Foreign brands (mostly French and Japanese) managed to secure more than 50 per cent of all premium-related car sales.

Update on 08/08/09:

German industry experts estimate that more than 50,000 cars that should have been scrapped were illegally shipped to Third World countries instead.

Knowing the mentality of scrapyard owners and second hand car dealers, it was so painfully obvious that this kind of thing would happen, but German politicians can be so naive and gullible at times, it is unbelievable… Some of them even lose their armoured S Class Mercedes while holidaying in Spain…

Jochen from Bremen, Germany