My Chinese Car Is Bigger Than Your Western Car

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

There is an interesting analysis on Chinacarforums: China-produced Western cars tend to come out bigger than their Western siblings. Especially at the higher end. A made-in-China Cadillac STS is 124mm longer than the U.S. sister model. The wheelbase grew by 100mm. A Chinese Audi A6 L has gained 97 mm in length over the Made-in-Ingolstadt relative. A BMW 5-series, made at the Chinese joint venture with Brilliance, has gained a whopping 140 mm in length and wheelbase over the Bavarian model.

This odd trend persists to varying degrees even into the smaller models. Chinese Honda Civic: 12mm longer and 15 mm higher than the Made-in Japan type. The Chinese Corolla must have been fed growth hormones: 130 mm longer and 64 mm wider. The only incredibly shrinking car is the Suzuki SX4: 46mm less in length, 25mm less in girth, and 50 mm less in height than the Japanese variety.

One explanation for the growth tendency: In China, a driver is common and cheap to hire. His monthly salaries are less than an U.S. insurance premium. Chinese tastes in cars are not unlike the Americans’: They want their cars big. Why Suzuki went to the pain of making the already small SX4 even smaller for China is anybody’s guess. Maybe the water was too hot in the car wash.

Bonus tip: The site has a (for a Chinese site) amazingly frank analysis of how blatant “homegrown” cars have copied their overseas “inspirations.”. The most outrageous copy according to their analysis: The FAW Redflag HQ3 v.v. the Crown Majesta. The HQ3 received a 90 percent similarity rating. Duh, it’s a badge-job.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Dec 19, 2009

    Damn Chinese food, your hungry an hour later and it makes you fat. ;) The only reason I can fathom for shrinking the SX4 would be to make it more of a "city car." But that would make more sense in Europe or at home in Japan.

  • Mpresley Mpresley on Dec 19, 2009

    I haven't read the article so I can't comment one way or the other, but would like to suggest that you find a picture of a hot Asian cutie instead of pregnant American trailer trash. That way, it'll match all your other China stories, and we like consistency, don't you know.

    • See 1 previous
    • Mpresley Mpresley on Dec 19, 2009

      Or a hot western girl and hot Asian girl we could both get pregnant. I'm thinking this is degenerating badly, and we'll probably be banned from the site, shortly.

  • Psmisc Psmisc on Dec 19, 2009

    AFAIK the HQ3 is a license-built rebadge of Crown, and the Brilliance Splendor was co-developed with BMW. Both are joint-ventures with Toyota and BMW respectively. All the others seem to be totally shanzhai though.

  • Charly Charly on Dec 19, 2009

    What is the big difference between the originals and the shanzhai copies? exterior, engine or something else.

    • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Dec 19, 2009

      Well I assume they're bigger on the outside to be bigger on the inside. If you're going to sit in the back of a car and be driven around, you want to be able to cross your legs or stretch them out, ect.