If you woke up not knowing the Chinese hate “new car” smell, consider yourself a well-informed person now.
Successfully selling a new vehicle in China means having to avoid the many cultural and legal traps specific to that growing market, reports Automotive News.
What works somewhere else might be a massive faux pas for Chinese buyers, meaning one wrong minor detail and an automaker can kiss its expensive international expansion goodbye. That’s a big concern for American automakers eyeing China in the hopes of boosting their global sales.
The middle and executive class of the world’s most populous country can’t get enough of exotic nameplates that ooze status and prestige, a trend capitalized on by the likes of Buick, Cadillac, and increasingly, Lincoln.
Lincoln’s plush 2017 Continental was destined for China from the word “go.” With that in mind, it was designed with an emphasis on rear-seat comfort to cater to the type that don’t get their hands dirty.
But legroom and a well-cushioned backside doesn’t cut it. For China, Lincoln had to scrap the U.S. model’s cushy leather upholstery for a tighter fit that doesn’t have wrinkles or lines in it.
Wrinkly leather? Can’t have it. Sloppy, you see.
During transport across the Pacific, odor-absorbing carbon sheets will be placed inside the Lincolns to eliminate that repellent new car smell, which can be purchased by the bottle in the U.S. in order to impress your friends.
“They have high demands in terms of craftsmanship and fit and finish,” said Pei-Wen Hsu, deputy general manager of marketing for Lincoln in China.
Buick, which will produce the Envision crossover in China and export it elsewhere, has had to nix one of the model’s two front seat cup holders and replace it with a touchscreen. As well, because China forbids roof racks and trailer hitches on private vehicles (can’t tempt anarchy), those will also be getting the boot.
China’s centralized Communist government might not be all that responsive or sympathetic when it comes to reporting potholes, so Chinese Envisions are offered with less wheel (17-inch versus the U.S. Model’s 19-inch) and more rubber to cushion the inevitable blow.
If their country can’t provide a desired level of craftsmanship in its roadways — or public elevators and escalators — at least the country’s nouveau riche can feel safe in their own cars.