The Truth About Cars » Shanghai Auto Show The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 29 Jul 2014 21:42:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Shanghai Auto Show Shanghai Auto Show: Repent, The End Of Fake Chinese Brands Is Near Tue, 23 Apr 2013 16:13:24 +0000

When the Chinese government invited Western carmakers to China, the trade was a huge and untapped Chinese market for access to Western technology. Foreign carmakers had to form joint ventures with Chinese. This triggered fears that the laowei would be kicked out in short order, while the Chinese would flood western markets with cheap cars made with expropriated intellectual property. It didn’t work out that way. At the Shanghai Auto Show, new attempts of the Chinese government to gain technology for free have the smell of death.

The foreigners made a killing, while the Chinese are still trying to get a handle on technology. 30 years after the first Western cars were made in China, Chinese car exports are still a non-issue. Meanwhile, sales in China power Western carmakers to new global sales records. GM and Volkswagen, both market leaders in China, make and sell more cars in the Middle Kingdom than at home. GM just announced plans to expand its Chinese capacities to 5 million cars per year by 2016. Volkswagen, which heretofore planned for 4 million units in China by 2016, is most likely drawing up plans to make a few more than GM.

Unhappy that the great leap forward for the acquisition of car know-how did not go according to plan, Chinese planners came up with another scheme:  Foreign carmakers were “encouraged” to create what TTAC soon called “fake Chinese brands,”  and what the Chinese erroneously call “sub-brands:”  Standalone brands owned by the joint venture, selling cars developed by the joint venture for the Chinese market.  The official interpretation of the arm-twisting was to provide “lower cost” cars to the Chinese people.  Western and Asian carmakers privately wondered how the extra cost of car development, brand building and channel management and the lack of the all-important scale should create lower costs cars.

However, instead of arguing, they supplied the lower cost cars desired by state planners: Cars built on outdated, last generation platforms, badged with brands announced with great fanfare, but with “absent-minded” follow-through, as  Zheng Zhilin, research director of LMC Automotive called it vis-a-vis the Shanghai Daily. According to Zheng, most  joint-venture China brands are nothing more than “recycling” outdated manufacturing platforms and giving them new logos. Chinese joint venture partners learned nothing more than creating empty PR fluff and amateurish branding, both arts they already had excelled at. State planners at least saw slightly larger market shares by domestic brands, numbers as home-grown as the C-cups on most booth babes on the show floor.

Not surprisingly, sales by joint venture brands are abysmal. “Some joint-venture China brands involve production of only about 10,000 cars each year,” says the Shanghai paper.  GM obligingly was first to say “yes, comrade!” and created the Baojun brand. Two years later, annual 2012 sales of Baojun crawled along at 84,467 units,  less than 3 percent of GM China’s total sales for the year.

If you are not into numbers, the state of the joint venture brands and their inherent lunacy can easily be visualized at the Shanghai Auto Show: At previous auto shows in Shanghai and Beijing, joint venture brands sported elaborate displays and spacious booths.  Now, most of them are shoved into a drab corner.  Honda’s Everus brand for instance, launched two years ago, has one bland blue car on an uninspired display, guarded by a bored man, while the rest of the Honda booth rocks and rolls.

In a sign that joint venture brands are a passing fad, Mazda’s joint venture partner Changan will soon launch a car in China that uses technology provided by Mazda, but that does not carry a new fake brand. “It was too costly and would take up too many of our resources for us to start a new brand and develop a dealer network,” Mazda’s CEO Takashi Yamanouchi told Reuters with a candidness other colleagues would not have dared in previous years.

Hopefully, this experience will tell Chinese planners that what China needs is not more, but fewer brands, and not more, but fewer automakers, to create the critical mass needed for meaningful R&D.

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Shanghai Auto Show: This Year, Guaranteed Safe For Work Mon, 22 Apr 2013 11:44:10 +0000  

And here the part you have been waiting for (especially those of our readers who suffer from Yellow Fever): This year’s round-up of the show’s product specialists. After last year’s  excesses at Chinese auto shows, the calls for a more family-oriented posture show disappointing results:  This year, the racy part is mostly left to the choice of cars on display.

At the Acura booth, a daring new ploy to cut through the clutter: Women in street clothes, on stage!

The market test in action: The lady that guards the Acura ZDX in subdued, but elegant attire receives little notice.

A lady in more revealing attire, demonstrating the features of the Acura  SUV-X on the other hand ….

… triggers an enthusiastic response.

This lady demonstrates the features of the Chery QQ.

Geely-owned Volvo attempted to underscore its Swedish heritage. A word of warning: The blonde models at Chinese car shows usually hail from Russia.

This blonde does not resonate. The guys are more interested in the sheet metal.

At Cadillac, a completely dressed product specialist. No crowd magnet.

Eloped from a re-make of “Gone with the Wind,” this couple sells vans.

The new face of Red China.

The art of persuasion: You WILL buy this car!

Or maybe we try hypnosis?

And now, our market segmentation study. The D-segment is gaining even more importance in China.

The more attainable C-segment reaches a larger customer group.

TTAC’s cross-cultural adviser, Frau Schmitto-san, who by the way is credited with pinpointing the most capable product specialists, demonstrates the importance of the A-Class in a segment that should be a natural choice in most parts of Asia.

IMG_9553 The Girls of the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Girls of the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Girls of the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Girls of the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Girls of the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Girls of the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Girls of the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Girls of the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Girls of the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Girls of the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Girls of the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Girls of the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Girls of the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Girls of the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Girls of the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 6
Shanghai Auto Show: Oh, What a Media Day Mon, 22 Apr 2013 09:50:24 +0000

The Shanghai Auto Show truly is a reflection of the Chinese car market: It is huge, and it is one big disorganized mess. This year, the media days were shrunk to one, with the effect that nearly 20 press conferences ran at the same time.  If you went to Audi, you could not go to Fiat, Chery, Nissan, and a host of others. Getting admitted was a whole other matter.

I have been to the Beijing and Shanghai auto shows for the fourth year now, and I know that their on-line signup process can be daunting. You enter intimate personal details, beginning with your passport number, you hit SEND, and the website craps out. You do it again, it craps out again.  Old China hands remember that one needs to use Internet Explorer exclusively to achieve results. This year however, even old IE did not do the trick. No go, even after an email said that they did reset the computer and to try it again. Catch-22: No successful sign-up, no confirmation number, no confirmation number, no credentials. Which led to long lines of irate international correspondents in front of little windows, where their professional qualifications, their visa status, and their reason for being here was questioned.  Those who waved invitation letters by large OEMs were told to submit the original, no copy. If Kafka would still be alive, he would have been at the Shanghai Auto Show doing research.

For the fourth year, TTAC finally passed scrutiny, and could join the members of the professional media that covered China’s  largest auto show. Here is a tribute to the credentialed members of the media that were let in.

A photo journalist from China Youth Daily, practicing the intricate art of large format photography.

Her colleague, taking still pictures of the Renault Alpine.

The East Asia Correspondent of Latex World.

The China correspondent of Christopher Street Monthly.

Of course, there was also higher caliber equipment.

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Shanghai Auto Show: Qoros Debuts In China Sun, 21 Apr 2013 16:39:52 +0000

BMW Mini’s former chief designer Gert Hildebrand and Volkswagen’s former North America vice chief Volker Steinwascher enjoyed the adolations of the adoring masses when they unveiled their new Qoros brand at the Shanghai Auto Show.

The new brand is  a joint venture between China’s Chery and Israel’s Israel Corp..

The  company plans to start production with the Qoros 3 sedan at an initial capacity of 150,000 units.

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Shanghai Auto Show: Waving The Red Flag Sun, 21 Apr 2013 16:08:22 +0000

FAW evokes the bad old times when China’s leaders, tired of the Long March, ordered hand-made parade limousines. The originals had been chronicled by Tycho de Feyter. Now they are re-lived as the Red Flag L5, L7, and L9.

This is the Red Flag L7, an especially baroque version. The cars have been crowd magnets at Chinese auto shows for years, but remain a rarity on the street. The modern Chinese leader prefers an Audi.

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Shanghai Auto Show: Two New EVs, Along With Two New Brands, Both From Toyota & Co. Sun, 21 Apr 2013 15:44:48 +0000

In the past, Toyota had tried to resist the urges of the Chinese government to establish new joint-venture brands. The company also had been highly skeptical of the viability of the electric vehicle. All doubts have been tossed over board. Toyota launched two new brands and two new EVs in China.

In September last year, Toyota’s designated Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada said:

“The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society’s needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge.”

The needs of the Chinese society appear to be different. Toyota shows two new electric vehicles side-by-side at the Shanghai show.

One is made at Toyota’s joint venture with FAW. The Corolla-based EV will be sold under the new Ranz brand.

The other EV is made at Toyota’s joint venture with Guangzhou Auto. The Camry-based EV will be  sold under the new brand of – well, you figure it out.

Despite generous subsidies, EVs remain largely unsalable in China. But if the Chinese government wants something, it gets it.

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Shanghai Auto Show: Toyota Struggles With Island Issue In China, Tries To Re-Gain Share With Low-Cost Cars Sun, 21 Apr 2013 15:05:24 +0000

The booths of Japanese automakers were mobbed today just like those of any other automaker at the Shanghai Motor Show. The action at the showrooms are a different matter. Sales of Japanese cars in China remain problematic more than half a year after rowdy crowds took to the streets last September to torch Japanese cars and showrooms. Sales of Japanese cars in China were down 14.3 percent in March while sales of U.S. carmakers were up 31.1 percent. Sales of German brands rose 24.6 percent.

Toyota does not expect to reach positive territory until August this year, Hiroji Onishi, head of Toyota’s China operations, told a small circle of reporters this morning at the Shanghai show. Asked why August, another Toyota executive quipped: “After previous riots in 2005 and 2010, it took half a year to recover. We figure, this time it might take twice as long.”

Others think it might take longer. The worries that Japanese cars get set on fire or smashed have largely abated in China. However, the image of Japanese has taken a lasting hit. “I don’t want to apologize to my friends for my choice of cars,” an American-educated Chinese executive who works for a European pharmaceutical company told me today in the lobby of my Shanghai hotel. He is in the market for a new car, and cross-shopped the Land Cruiser Prado and the Audi Q5. He now tilts toward the Q5, despite the massive recall of the DSG double-clutch gearbox last March.

Onishi said there are “other issues” that hold his company back from recouping lost market share. Those issues being a lack of new and exciting product. Toyota hopes to get back in the good graces of Chinese buyers with revamped versions of the low-cost Vios sedan and its Yaris hatchback sibling. The approximately $14,500 cars probably aren’t low-cost enough to compete with the $9,000 Chevrolet Sail. Onishi said the Daewoo-platformed car was the only low cost car that so far has made a big splash in China.

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Shanghai Auto Show: Buick MPV Attracts Interest In High Places Sat, 20 Apr 2013 15:28:49 +0000

Buick shows  a few interesting concepts in Shanghai. One, a business MPV attracted the interest on GM’s competition at Toyota. Soon-to-be Toyota chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada came for a quick visit, eyed the prototype for a few seconds, and left.

He completely ignored the China-designed Buick Riviera concept.

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Shanghai Auto Show: BYD And Daimler Show First Glimpse At Joint EV While BYD Gets Mad At Reuters Sat, 20 Apr 2013 14:39:17 +0000

The Denza shows its stripes

So Denza, the odd couple joint venture between Daimler and BYD, lifted the veil of its upcoming all-electric SUV. A car in heavy camouflage rolled on stage here at the Shanghai Motor Show. The car looked, well, like the old B-Class from which it is derived.

As for the specs of the car, they remain largely foggy. Clarity is promised for the Guangzhou  Auto Show, which will be in November.  On a screen that was only readable by VIPs in the first row, it said that the battery will be “developed  for vehicle lifetime,”  that the range will be “well over  200km” (125 miles), and that the battery will disconnect from the drivetrain in case of emergency.

More and more say that is not true at all

Joint venture partner BYD in the meantime is betting on hybrid. At the show, BYD unveiled what Reuters calls a quote self-developed unquote    gasoline-electric car technology. Other carmakers, led by Toyota, are also suddenly betting big on hybrid. Toyota’s presentation today was given by the father of the Prius and designated Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada who promised a big hybrid push for and in China. The technology so far was a slow seller. Insiders expect that the Chinese government will extend bigger subsidies to buyers of hybrid cars, after the big electric car revolution in China turned out to be a bust.

Zetsche did not show

Of course, BYD would not confirm the Reuters story  that it might ditch gasoline-powered cars within two years to focus on mostly hybrid and a few EVs. I am told that BYD’s legal department contacted Reuters and demanded that the story is taken down. Reuters refused. Reuters reporter Norihiko Shirouzu says his sources are impeccable. Of course, the Reuters piece contained other uncouth material, such as one BYD exec saying that “The last three years have been tough, and painful at times. Everybody beat us up. A lot of long-term investors and friends of the company lost patience with us.”

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Buick Riviera Concept: Yes Please! Fri, 19 Apr 2013 15:23:57 +0000

Unfortunately, this is just a design study meant for the Shanghai Auto Show. But GM, how about an Alpha-based Riviera? This concept is supposedly a plug in hybrid, but the new twin-turbo V6 would fit nicely under the hood of this thing. More live pictures to follow.

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Shanghai Auto Show: World’s Baddest Convertible Thu, 21 Apr 2011 14:11:24 +0000

“Herr Professor Piech! I guess all of us here at the Volkswagen Group are still working on becoming the world’s largest auto maker … by 2018, that’s right.

In the meantime, we built the world’s largest convertible!”

I hope he won’t mind the Spaltmass …

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Shanghai Auto Show: Mercedes Imitation Is The Sincerest Form Of Joint Venture Thu, 21 Apr 2011 13:47:20 +0000

No, this is not the Mercedes B Class. It is the Beijing Auto BC301. Supposedly, it is a blatant copypaste, performed by Daimler’s joint venture partner BAIC.

This is the real B Class. Come on, guys, where is the copy here? The colors are totally different! And the BC301 is fashionable matte.

(Honestly, after 2 days at the Shanghai Show, all these SUVlets look alike to me. It must be the Chinese food …)

Now here is something totally new: World premiere of the A-Class concept. It comes in three colors. Grey.


And red.  Which one do you like best?

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Shanghai Auto Show: The Very Much Tinted M5 Concept Thu, 21 Apr 2011 13:03:46 +0000

The attentive TTAC reader knew long before the Shanghai Auto Show what BMW would put on display. What they wanted to see were pictures of the inside of the M5 Concept. Attempts to fulfill that request were frustrated. First of all, access to the car is barred. A metal-glass barrier, along with an earpiece-toting muscular guard, make it impossible to fulfill the journalistic duty. Also, the glass of the car is heavily tinted. Not just from the side …

But also from the front. It is impossible to look inside. And most likely it is impossible to look outside also. My hunch: That concept doesn’t have an interior yet. Or maybe BMW did not want to send one to China just yet. It could appear in another car from another brand before the M5 ever goes on sale.

Other cars were much more accessible.

Long versions, such as this Siebener, are all the rage in China.

Don’t be fooled by the color of the Sechser convertible. The light was a bit pink.

BMW M5 Concept. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt BMW M5 Concept. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt BMW M3 Coupe. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt BMW 650i Convertible. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt BMW 750Li. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt ]]> 4
Shanghai Auto Show: The All Chrome Buick Excelle Thu, 21 Apr 2011 12:31:15 +0000

Remember the gold plated Infiniti that was arrested by Chinese police? Did you think that was a bit over the top? GM China shares your sentiments. Instead of gauche gold, GM China displays an all chrome Buick Excelle XT at the Shanghai Auto Show.

We are talking bumper to bumper chrome.

Some visitors could not believe their eyes. The car was clearly talking to their chromagnan inner self. Significant others had their eyes set on other cars, while leaving fingerprints in the chrome paintjob. How can a woman resist a mirror?

I did not dare to ask whether the thing will go on sale. I guess if there is enough interest ….

The chrome Buick Excelle. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The chrome Buick Excelle. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The chrome Buick Excelle. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The chrome Buick Excelle. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt ]]> 19
Shanghai Autoshow: The Vanishing Ripoff Tue, 19 Apr 2011 16:56:52 +0000

Remember the Brilliance A3 SUV that the German press called “a brazen BMW X1 rip-off, with inspirations from Audi?” After BMW spokesman Frank Strebe said that the matter would be taken up with their joint venture partner Brilliance, Strebe had said: “Maybe the vehicle won’t be at the show.”

Lo and behold, BMW showed its X1 in Shanghai. At the Brilliance booth however was no A3 to be seen. Instead, there was a gaping hole in the array of Brilliance cars. Asked about the matter, Strebe said his prediction was caused by “intuition.”

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Shanghai Autoshow: The CEO Dilemma Tue, 19 Apr 2011 16:31:10 +0000

Due to some adroit planning, important auto shows in the world’s largest market and the world’s second largest fall in the same week this year. CEOs of the world’s top automakers have a dilemma: Shanghai or New York?

European and Japanese carmakers know where their bread is buttered. They went to China. A massive show of police force was the first indicator that today would be a day of very important people..

Some last glitches needed to be fixed at the Volkswagen display. Did anyone say that there are electrical problems?

The brand was also polished. After that, everything was a go.

This morning, one of the first press conferences was given by Volkswagen. The teleprompter gave away who would be coming.

CEO Martin Winterkorn and his board were in full attendance in China. Here, Winterkorn is getting last instructions for the speech.

Which were promptly ignored. The brief was. “Smile!”


R&D Chef Ulrich Hackenberg presented the new New Beetle.

Volkswagen China’s sales chief Soh Weiming also had his appearance – on a concept for an electric scooter. As if China doesn’t have enough of the things. But possibly, Volkswagen wants to break into that market also. Billions of units could be sold.

“Come on, Uli, let’s go over to Audi.”

At Audi, something seemed in need of an unveiling.

A little more than planned was unveiled, but you needed a motor drive to spot the wardrobe malfunction.

It’s the Audi Q3. Finally.

Presented by Audi CEO Rupert Stadler.

Nissan sent its CEO, Carlos Ghosn.

Renault sent its CEO, Carlos Ghosn (here photographed when visiting the Nissan booth.)

On Monday, The Nikkei [sub] was still wondering whether Akio Toyoda would go to Shanghai. Not because they thought he would go to New York. The Nikkei gathered Toyota’s CEO might be busy managing the aftermath of the March 11 tsunami. And indeed, “I was conflicted about my trip to China right up until the time of my departure,” Toyoda said.

However, the Shanghai tour became a little dangerous for Toyoda. After a perilous climb on top of the roof on the Reiz concept …

… Toyota slipped and nearly crashed to the floor, would two Chinese ladies, who apparently are as strong as they are beautiful, not have intervened.

And the Americans? Let’s just say that Ford sent its Asia and Pacific Chief Joe Hinrichs.

Along with Ford’s Director for Global Electrification, Nancy Gioia.

So now you know how the CEO dilemma was handled at select carmakers. This report does not claim completeness. At the Shanghai Auto Show, sometimes ten press events are scheduled in parallel. The lone reporter has to perform triage and pick one. Speaking of reporters: At an intimate round-table, hosted by Toyota for select media, an American reporter asked whether Toyoda would go to the New York Auto Show. Masami Doi, General Manager for global communications, bit his tongue and answered: “We don’t comment on the CEO’s travel schedule.”


i Q3. Finally.
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Shanghai & New York Autoshow: Ask, And You Shall Receive Fri, 15 Apr 2011 20:02:52 +0000

This coming week is the week when all car manufacturers wish they would have a split personality.  The New York Auto Show and the Shanghai Auto Show will take place in the same week. Jack Baruth will take Manhattan. (Hey, Jack: The famous Headquarter’s “Steakhouse” is right next door to the Javit’s Center.  Scores is just a few blocks south.) I’ll take Shanghai and my camera. I’m sure Jack will come equipped. Maybe.

As a special service to the Best & Brightest,  YOU can put in requests for what we shall take pictures of – apart from the obvious.

We’ll try to fulfill all requests – to the best of our abilities.

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No More Chinese Week-End Sun, 04 Apr 2010 08:25:32 +0000

Now that TTAC’s crew has landed in force at NYIAS, Chinese Week-end is no longer in effect. Regular rules apply.  We clear the stage with a look back at the human side of last year’s Shanghai Auto Show. There are two reasons for it:

One, TTACs  NYIAs coverage concentrates on cars, and cars only.

Two, there were already complaints about a lack of “of cute girls with black hair in mini skirts.” And we aim to please.

For an antidote, please direct your attention to a great blog, titled “Do You Come With the Car?” Seen through the eyes of and written by a booth babe.

Her latest post is another gem:

When I see a large person make a face while climbing in and out of a car, I know this is the first thing they will say to me:

“The seat is too small. You make them smaller every year.”

The seat is not too small. The seat is not any smaller than it was last year or five years ago.

The seat is not too small. Your a$$ is too big.

With that out of the way, here are some selections from Globalmotors.

For the man who has everything, here is a two-fer:

And as an antidote, a blonde (the following taken from Ridelust:)

That wasn’t what you had in mind? So let’s close with what’s on and in your mind:

Looking for more? Easy. Now I know what the blogging boothgirl meant when she wrote: “We’re pretty sure it’s going to wind up in a “Girls of the Auto Show” blog post where men who haven’t gotten laid since the recession started will have the audacity to pick apart our appearance.”

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