By on February 5, 2010

Premium cars are a hard sell? Not in China. The Chinese developed a ravenous appetite for Germany’s luxury brands. In January, all three German premium makes, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes, more than doubled their sales, reports Das Autohaus.

Leader of the luxo-pack is Audi with 16.798 units sold in January in China, up 115 percent compared to January 2009.

Mercedes increased its Chinese sales in January by 146.6 percent: 8.400 units sold.

BMW sold 11,919  BMWs and Minis in the Middle Kingdom, 122 percent more than in the year before. For the first time in recorded history, BMW sold more than 10,000 cars a month in China.

January promises to be another record month in China. Most brands report record sales. With 219,192 verhicles sold, the combined GM joint ventures are up 97 percent from a year earlier, Gasgoo reports. Dongfeng Peugeot Citroen, Chang’an Ford, and Chery, all report record sales.

Official data on total vehicle sales for January are due next week, but the China Passenger Car Association figures that China’s passenger car sales rose 84 per cent in January.

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19 Comments on “They Are Starving Back In China – For Luxury Cars...”


  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    I’d have thought the luxury marque which has made the biggest splash in China it’d be Buick? Aren’t they crazy for them over there?

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Regal and LaCross sold a total of 17,011 units in January, indeed just a little bit ahead of Audi (as reported in the Gasgoo link).

      I don’t have a comparison to Buick’s US sales figures handy, though.

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      It’s a question of semantics. This is an article of luxury cars, not luxury brands. The people who populate TTAC tend to think A4’s, 3-series, and C-Class are luxury cars (which they are if you compare them against the similarly sized Civic and Corolla), and Park Avenues and Lacrosse’s as mass market cars (which they are if you compare them against the similarly sized S-Class and 7 series).

      An Armani T-Shirt is still an Armani, and a JC Penney suit is still a JC Penney. Don’t expect logic from this crowd. :)

  • avatar

    Are you pulling my leg? Buick is as middle of the road as you can get in China. It’s China’s Opel.

  • avatar
    srogers

    Buick a luxury marque?
    Only in GM’s dreams.

    • 0 avatar

      Buick isn’t a luxury in China?

      tell you what… do what I did and actually LIVE IN CHINA FOR A FEW YEARS.

      When you’ve gotta take your child to school on a bicycle through monsoon force winds and freezing rain during November/December and January… any car is a good car.

      But When you can actually afford an American car and you come from a group of people so oppressed by their government that TELEVISION IS EDUCATIONAL AND HAS NO ABSURDITY ON IT ALL… trust me, you’ll grasp for ANY icon from a country that allows its people the freedom to do whatever.

      Buick, Cadillac and Lincoln are more desired by many Chinese than the top level Japanese cars.

      After all, the Chinese still hate Japan for the atrocities of WW2.

    • 0 avatar

      Flashpoint:

      Maybe you should change your alias to Flashback. You are living in the past, and it apparently wasn’t so kind to you. When was the last time you were in China? Come back! This place is changing faster than any place I have been (and I lived all over the world.)

      – Lincoln: There are no Lincolns in China, save for the odd one imported by an expat. Google “Lincoln” and “China” and you will find porcelain in the White House. Or China invoking Abraham L. to tell Obama not to foster secession …

      – Re hating Japanese for atrocities: My wife is Japanese. We live in Beijing. We should have first hand experience, There is no wholesale hate. WWII was 65 years back. Give it up. Most Japanese companies have JVs in China and are doing a bang-up job here. See below.

      – Kindly peruse the list of best selling sedans in China 2009 to see what the Chinese like to buy.

      – Television: For me, Chinese Television is absurdity incarnate

    • 0 avatar

      BERTEL

      Beijing does not speak for all of China. Have you been to Shanghai lately? Hang Zhou? Xi Quan?

      As for Lincoln – remember, I said “desired”. Rich Chinese are importing Lincoln MKX, Z and S there. There is a specific car shop I know of in Shanghai that SELLS THEM.

      as for your wife, we’ve been through this before… I am 100% sure other chinese women are talking about your wife behind her back. You should leave her out of this :P

    • 0 avatar
      psmisc

      Buicks are upper-middle-class salarypeople rides, same for 3-series, C-class, A4, etc. Anything higher means you are a mid-level beaurucrat or own a company. Note that Chinese are very image-conscious.

      “Beijing does not speak for all of China. Have you been to Shanghai lately? Hang Zhou? Xi Quan?”

      If anything Beijing is the hottest spot when it comes to nationalism. It gets milder as you move south. Even then the attitude is pretty diluted. It’s the spoilt frustrated one-child-policy urban male youth who are left out of the race that make up the vocal minority. Then again, even among this subgroup it’d be hard to find anyone who isn’t a rabid fan of Dragonball, Doraemon, or Gundam.

      “But When you can actually afford an American car and you come from a group of people so oppressed by their government that TELEVISION IS EDUCATIONAL AND HAS NO ABSURDITY ON IT ALL… ”

      Are you sure? While I was in Xi’an there were Japanese game shows every day. If anything most local programs simply lack budget and talent. Censorship is on porn and bashing the state, you can blast provincials and below for all you want.

      “as for your wife, we’ve been through this before… I am 100% sure other chinese women are talking about your wife behind her back.”

      I take it that you don’t eavesdrop on the ladies very often to find this a novelty. ;P

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    That’s the point. By any metric, GM are moving Vauxhall/Opel upscale. Remember, the Insignia is the Buick Regal in NA and that definitely is positioned as luxury make (allegedly). Chevrolet in Europe is replacing Vauxhall/Opel as the standard everyday car and Vauxhall/Opel is almost like a “tweener” marque, like “Buick” used to be and like what “Mercury” is to Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      Are they actually selling enough Chevrolets in Europe to make any difference to Opel?

      That plan’s going to go as bad or worse than Chrysler moving upmarket in NA.

      I guess that it depends on your definition of luxury, but I interpret luxury as something that only the upper class can attain without serious compromise. ie. My brother bought a used M3. He’s middle class and the compromises are that he bought used and that he’s going to do without a lot of other toys for some years now.

    • 0 avatar
      Vega

      Hi, reality calling. From Germany.

      “Chevrolet in Europe is replacing Vauxhall/Opel as the standard everyday car and Vauxhall/Opel is almost like a “tweener” marque,”

      HAHAHAHAHA

      Sorry.

      Don’t mistake GM’s wishful thinking for reality…

      Chevrolet (used to be Daewoo) in Europe is absolute bottom-dweller material bought (mainly by East-German pensioners) for only one reason: Cheap price.

      Opel, for decades the brand of lower level civil servants, still hasn’t managed to close the image gap towards VW in Germany (their “home market”) and is suffering from the general trend of the middle classes towards more premium products. Even most entry-level Polo drivers wouldn’t want to be seen dead in an Opel…

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Speaking of NON-luxury makes, what happened to the Chrysler JV? Are they down to their old Jeep licensing deal, or has that been terminated? I imagine the hemi-powered 300C could have found a few customers, or even imports of the Viper.

  • avatar
    Nopanegain

    I can comment that what the window cleaner is doing would be shunned by OSHA in the USA…figures.

  • avatar
    newcarscostalot

    Is Lexus in China? Also, It’t interesting to compare the difference in perception in regards to Buick between China and the US. I wonder if the LaCrosse is ‘as nice’ as a Lexus ES-350? Anyone check them both out? Just curious!

  • avatar

    Yes, Lexus is in China. I am not in a position to comment on differences of perception.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    The Chinese are buying a lot of imported Range Rover’s now. Bearing in mind the huge amount of tax on them, their figures are even more impressive than the likes of BMW who make cars in China.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    You have to be jealous at the germans.
    If you have a new Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche, you´re telling the neighbors that you´ve made it.
    Those cars are not always better then other marques, but somehow they´re more desirable.
    The germans are aware of this, and they make you pay.

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    It’s not surprising, and its not just with automotive brands. China is expected to become the largest market for luxury goods like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, etc.

    Chinese tourists were what Japanese tourist were in the 80s, they tend to spend freely on their many vacations.

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