For the past two weeks, China’s capital had been awash in rumors that it would use stern methods to stamp out rampant car growth. Most popular rumor: A one car policy. Only one per resident. There are 4.7 million cars in Beijing and 22 million people. That disparity did not allay the worries of motorized Beijingers. They want their two cars just like they want their two kids. A run on the showrooms ensued, dealers ran out of cars.
In numbers: The city of Beijing usually registers 1000 cars a day. Lately, that number had risen to 2000 a day. The rumors caused panic buying. During the week from Nov. 29 to Dec. 5, “Beijing had 21,000 new cars on the roads, translating to 3,000 more cars per day,” reports People’s Daily. To curb car growth caused by car growth curbing rumors, the city had to do something fast. And they did. (Read More…)
Beijingers who shop for a car increasingly find themselves SOL. Dealers report a shortage of cars. Especially scarce: inventories of Volkswagens, China’s largest passenger car brand. “I have to turn to another auto brand for not being able to get a single car of Volkswagen’s for five months,” a customer named Li Guang complained to China’s Global Times. The paper reports delivery times of 3 months for China-made Polos, Sagitars (formerly known as Jetta) and Magotan (known as the Passat B6 in other countries.) Now, Beijing’s car dealers are pouring more oil on the fire. The rumor mill is ablaze with talk that Volkswagen might postpone its car supply to Beijing’s auto market for January next year, because Beijing might launch new car registration limit policies at that time. The result? (Read More…)
It’s a well-kept secret, which will give the willies to people who are (at least publicly) worried about intellectual property: Microsoft has one of their best R&D centers in China. Located in the silicone gulch in the north of Beijing, MSRA (Microsoft Research Asia) is working on advanced technologies, mostly in the visual area. I worked with them once, and they are NFSWing good. They just had another great idea: Why not mine the knowledge of cab drivers when it comes to proposing the best route on your in-car navigation system? (Read More…)
A taxi driver said it more succinctly: “We’re making another Great Wall, it’s just that this one is a wall of cars.” Relief could come from a monstrous contraption called the straddle bus. (Read More…)
Shanghai is gearing up for the Expo 2010, which is supposed to drive millions of visitors to the sprawling Chinese metropolis from May through October. The whole city is being refurbished. Shanghai’s Hongqiao airport received a spanking new terminal. Shanghai’s Finest don’t want to be left behind. (Read More…)
Beijing’s drivers can get off their anti-anxiety medication. Beijing’s government has decided that Beijingers can go forth and buy as many cars as they desire. Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform spokesperson Zhao Lei said that Beijing will not take administrative measures to restrain residents from buying automobiles, People’s Daily reports. (Read More…)
Sweden’s prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt had his fill of failed negotiations. Returning home from round-the-clock talks at the Copenhagen climate conference, he said that he saw the Saab collapse coming. Sweden’s prime minister is “unsurprised” by the collapse of the sale, says Reuters. Asked if he was surprised, Reinfeldt said: “No, the process was built around a loss-making company and an American owner that owned Saab for 20 years and made a profit in one of the 20. It’s clear that it was not successful enough.” Sweden’s head blames GM for the failure. (Read More…)
A few days ago I captured some news from Swedish Aftonbladet.se that Beijing Auto (BAIC) is buying Saab’s now to be replaced 9-5 technology. Even though the Koenigsegg-Saab deal fell apart, and BAIC were a part of the investor group, the Chinese has not given up the idea to build Saabs in China. At the time I couldn’t find any other reports on this, and wondered wether Aftonbladet had done some creative journalism, but yesterday, Nyteknik.se reported the same news, citing their own sources. They’ve even confronted Saab’s spokesperson Gunilla Gustavs, but of course she can not, will not comment on that.
China is the perfect place to think about the future shape of mobility. It’s my job here to push my staff to push the envelope and think about the global automotive future from Beijing
Mercedes designer Olivier Boulay, explains his inspiration migration from Japan’s chauffeur-car culture to the streets of Beijing. The Wall Street Journal puts the cliches about China’s role in the world of automotive design, pointing out that (among other things) for every Geely GE, there’s a Buick Invicta. Not only are Chinese designers affecting Western brands, other Western brands like Mercedes are transferring design staff to China to seek out inspiration in the world’s new largest car market. And developing styling to Chinese tastes is about more than gaining market share there. China’s seemingly contradictory love affairs with conspicuous consumption and electric vehicles (mostly bicycles) represent a heady fusion of luxury and futuretech, a combination that already defines the marketing of many Western luxury car brands. As these trends develop, and as the Chinese market grows, auto design will increasingly be shaped by and in the Middle Kingdom.