The cars, the girls, the generals, and the news of the Beijing Motor Show
Day two of the Beijing Auto Show. It’s a Saturday morning, traffic is supposed to be light (by Beijing standards) – but boy are we wrong. The roads are clogged. All traffic flows north, towards the fairgrounds. Again, this is the second day for accredited media only. Yesterday, when we left the show, there were lots of traders offering money for the press passes. Which they resold to waiting customers for a hefty mark-up. The take was quickly put in circulation, and all of Beijing is headed to the show. Come along
An unusually high presence of security at the BAIC booth alerted us that something must be going on.
BAIC’s BAW (Beijing Auto Works) unveiled their medium-sized SUV called “007.” Top brass, including a four star general, signed the hood.
If you want it full-sized, Beijing Auto has the B90 on tap. Nearly. Concept only, but it’s a hybrid.
Speaking of Beijing Auto, remember that they bought the tooling of the old Saab 9-3 and 9-5. You probably wonder what they did with it. Given that that shipping didn’t commence before January 15, and given that it takes a good month for the container to arrive in China from Europe, one doesn’t expect results just yet.
Wrong. Beijing Auto brought a C71 concept to the show, based on the Saab 9-5. I had totally overlooked the thing, props to TheTycho for noticing. Tycho even shows a C71 still in bubble-wrap. And an equally bubble-wrapped picture of the C60, this one based on the Saab 9-3. TheTycho must be in the trade show business. The pictures are from before the show opened. Production of the Beijing Saabs should commence in a year or so.
What about the real SAAB, the one that nearly got away was bought by Spyker? I almost didn’t notice them. Walked by their booth two times. Tucked into a dark corner of exotic cars, there it was – Spyker. And a small SAAB sign. If that booth is a sign of things to come, then Saab will go nowhere. A lousy Saab 9-3 ragtop, next to a Spyker Aileron. And guess which one got the girl?
Let’s get back to SUVs. China hasn’t received the memo that SUVs are antisocial. If they would have received the memo, it would have been thrown away. SUVs are all the unabated rage in the Middle Kingdom, with no social stigma attached whatsoever.
Offerings range from the run-of-the mill Pajero …
… to plenty local fare (nod to Micheal Blue, who demanded “pics of wheels and the babes’ legs”) …
Toyota shows the FJ Cruiser, complete with winch (always a handy item when stuck on the 3rd Ring Road).
Then there are the HUMMERs. Yes, HUMMERs. Isn’t HUMMER officially dead? Hasn’t the Tengzhong deal been given thumbs down by the Chinese government? Who cares! There are HUMMERs in sinister matte black …
… there are blinged-out HUMMERs, ready to fly.
… there are long wheel-base, blinged-out HUMMERs.
… there are HUMMERs stretched from here to Sunday. I once rented a stretch HUMMER in New York, and it couldn’t make the turn on Park and 86th. No such problem in China. On Tiananmen Square, one could create a slalom course for the stretched HUMMERs.
Never say die: HUMMER is alive and well in China. When I asked one of the customizers (who didn’t want to have his picture taken, and who only gave his surname as “Wang”) what they will do when their supply of Hummers runs out, he answered: “Mei wen ti.” (No problem.) “We’ll always have a supply. One way or the other.” Whatever that means. Either they bought all the remaining stock for cheap. Or …
Should their endless supply of HUMMERs expire, there is always Range Rover to the rescue.
Speaking of Rover: Tata-owned JLR has found the proper subliminal message for prospective buyers (such as reader Willman) of their much shorter Land Rover: “Kneel, slave! You WILL buy it, and you WILL NOT drive it for 6 months as punishment.”
While on the topic of length: As recently underscored by Ed Niedermeyer, the secret to appeal to China’s elite is to make cars longer. The luxury market in China develops serious stretchmarks, and nobody objects. Rolls-Royce tries to gain market share with their Phantom extended wheelbase.
There are these rumors going around that Chinese cars are inherently unsafe and perform miserably in crash tests. Citroen started a non-profit initiative and shows, for everybody to see, the secrets of building a crash-worthy car. (Important segments in RED.)
Toyota joins this initiative by showing smashed-up Toyotas. For those who don’t know: C-NCAP is the Chinese New Car Assessment Program, modeled after EuroNCAP, which is modeled after the U.S. NCAP. All with slightly different parameters, just to keep it interesting. And speaking of accidents: No booth babes in Toyota’s booth. As a customer oriented company, Toyota doesn’t want any sudden acceleration, of heartbeat or whatever.
(Surprising TTAC props section)
Yesterday, we reported that we had found the Buick booth deserted, and all of GM’s displays devoid of any female companionship for cars. I was about to avoid the GM display on day two, would it not have been for a request by ajla: “More Park Avenue and Cadillac SLS pictures please.”
So I went back to fulfill customer wishes, and guess what: The Buick booth was mobbed! Wait, there’s more …
On to the Cadillac SLS, and what do we see? Elegantly dressed females, to complement the shapely lines of the SLS. Way to go, GM China!
Bonus upskirt photo.
Bonus CTS-V picture
Rumors of the demise of the Volt-derived Converj are untrue – if this picture is an indication. Why would GM bring the car to China, dedicate an even more elegantly outfitted lady to it, and then not build it? Would they do that? China would object.
Pictures of the Park Avenue? We aim to please.
Park Avenue from the outside …
… and from within.
Somehow, I believe that reader ajla has a lot of pull at GM, and that the request for more pictures was aimed at getting me back to the booth after the unfortunately delayed ladies had finally arrived in strength. Even the lowly AVEO has company.
The overgrown Segway is lonely no more and has received companionship. Of the fairer and the unfair sex.
Bravo, GM! You listened to customers, you minted deserved criticism into a grand show – and that literally overnight. That’s true dedication to excellence. Perception gap no more. As an added bonus, we won’t say a word about Ford.
Also because we could not find Ford. They were in a hall off the beaten path. And they forgot to do what Volkswagen (also in a hall, far, far away) did.
The TTAC 2010 Beijing Motor Show for Consistency under Duress Award goes to the Infiniti desk ladies. They received (and deserved) wide TTAC coverage on day one.
We checked on them right when we got to the show on day two. No change.
An hour later: No change.
We couldn’t leave the show without checking again on a team that would put the Kensington Palace guards to shame:
They will be there until May 2, when the show ends.
Infiniti could receive no better branding. That’s what we call unending devotion.
Next year’s show will be in Shanghai. Beijing and Shanghai alter each year. Before the circus comes back to China’s capital in 2012, they better build more space. They’ll need it.