By on December 22, 2011

If, a few years ago, I would have suggested that the Chinese would buy more Mercedes, BMW and Audi than the Autobahn-addicted Germans, you would have suggested an increase in dosage. But the condition is incurable. China may overtake Germany as the world’s second-largest market for luxury cars, says Bloomberg. The largest market for upscale units remains the U.S. — until further notice.

Jenny Gu, a Shanghai- based analyst at research firm LMC Automotive, sees the number of luxury cars sold in China to climb 39 percent to 939,000 in 2011.  In Germany, 914,000 premium cars are likely to be delivered this year. For the next year, Ms. Gu sees an increase of 16 percent in China, compared with Germany’s 4.4 percent growth.

China has become the growth and profit engine for BMW, Daimler and Audi. Executives hope it will stay that way, as Europe looks a little pale around the nose.

All three luxury-auto makers posted record November sales in China. Audi soared 69 percent over last year, BMW (BMW) rose 9.8 percent and Mercedes gained 24 percent.

Audi’s 11-month sales in China have advanced 35 percent to 283,600. BMW through November has climbed 40 percent to 200,699, while Mercedes has gained 31 percent to 170,112.

In the U.S., deliveries will probably climb 18 percent to 1.65 million this year, Gu said. Give the Chinese a few years, and that will be taken care of also.


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12 Comments on “Chinese Buy More Luxury Cars Than Germans...”

  • avatar

    You’re already seeing some of the ramifications of this. While I don’t think we’ll be seeing an Audi A4L in the US any time soon, things like styling are already being impacted by what the Chinese market wants. The huge grill on the A8 for example is supposedly to better appeal to Chinese buyers.

    I also can’t help but wonder if the fact that cars like the 5 series have become considerably more upscale has to do with the fact that they are used as chauffeur driven cars in China.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    According to Wolfram Alpha, the population of China is 1.35 Billion, roughly 16 times that of Germany and 4.5 x that of the United States. So, not surprising on the face of it.

    Actually, I see the silver lining for the U.S. OEM’s….as the European and Asian Makers become “China-fied” chasing after the Chinese market, the U.S. makers have the home-court advantage in the second-largest market, the U.S. If they can sell the typical American on the uniqueness of the American product, I suppose it is possible they can reclaim market share because, frankly, I have no interest in driving a vehicle designed for Chinese tastes. But then, I am a fool for authentic Moo Goo Gai Pan, so maybe not.

    • 0 avatar

      Uh, the flaw with that argument, is that is exactly what Detroit has done for the past 30 years: build American cars for Americans. Unfortunately, as Americans travel abroad more and as journalist types get romanced in places like the south of France to drive road hugging Euro sedans, the ensuing relentless attacks by the media convinced even soccer moms that they had to have 300 hp, DOHC, 4 wheel discs and AWD just to get groceries.
      America has tried that root and it failed. World class and world wide distribution it will be, or the trash heap of history – those are the choices today.

      • 0 avatar

        300 hp, DOHC, 4 wheel discs, and AWD are bad things?

        Granted not every “soccer mom” needs 300 hp or DOHC, but 4 wheel discs make service easier and quicker for whoever is servicing a car – even if that is the dealership. Not everyone needs AWD, but it makes life easier for someone who must go up a steep driveway or a “4WD only” road (never seen one myself, but I’ve heard they exist).

        As for Detroit building “American cars for Americans”, let’s just say some of those cars (especially 30 years ago as you mention) were hit-or-miss efforts. For better or for worse, Americans eventually discovered that the “American” (Kentucky-built) car for Americans that they really wanted was the Toyota Camry. Of course, things have changed lately, and Toyota has tended to rest on its laurels with its mainstream products (cough-Corolla-cough) while Detroit puts in solid efforts.

        It will be interesting to see how American uniqueness will be marketed versus “China-ified” cars in the future.

  • avatar

    There are many more Chinese (1.3B) than Germans (81M).

  • avatar

    All I have got to say is a whole bunch of government officials know how to roll in style!

  • avatar

    Don’t the Germans have some social constraints on what cars they can buy? Maybe I’m mistaken but somewhere along the line I picked up the idea that there is a strong social sanction against buying a car that is “above your station” so to speak. Not a law, of course, just a social expectation.

  • avatar

    The inevitability of articles like this is obvious to most: I read somewhere that China’s middle class is now larger than the entire population of the United States.
    While the disciples of Globalization, the Prostrating Enviro-weenies and the White Man Apologists emasculate the United States in particular, and the West in general, the march of Asia toward world domination will surprise only those with their heads in the sand. 150 years of technology has been handed over in a decade. Two hundred years worth of industrial jobs were handed over in the same time.
    Although Whirlpool, GE and others may find it easier to build things over there without facing the same silly litigious and environmental concerns they would face here, they are sewing the seeds of their own (and ours, too) destruction.
    For Americans this must be truly humbling: seeing the bridge ahead is out, but being unable to stop the train. Canadians are used to kissing a$$, and since many of my fellow countrymen so resent America that they are willingly selling their souls to their future Asian masters just to thumb their noses at our southern neighbor, our sovereignty and future will not only be handed over, but it will be done so with a typical Canadian smile and, ‘gee, shucks.’
    Is there anyone south of the 49th parallel who still has their hands on the brake handle and is awake?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    And before you know it, they’ll overtake the US as well, the rise of the far east at the expense of the west.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not a zero sum game you know.

      • 0 avatar

        Not today, but in 20 years it will be. If China achieves even 50% parity with the West in their standard of living, there will either be massive shortages of critical resources or wars fought over them, or both!
        How can it be any other way? The elephant in the room is not the end of oil or the Middle East blowing itself up, or Chinese growth or American imperialism: it is 2 countries that account for nearly half the world’s population that now actively covet Western style lives.
        Until THAT discussion is on the table at the next U.N. conference, we are spiraling toward a clash of civilizations that is inevitable.

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