China Is High On Luxury Cars

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
china is high on luxury cars

The Chinese car market may be a bit tepid these days. It’s slow, because fewer small commercial vehicles are being sold, and because sales of small passenger cars, especially homegrown ones, are not growing as much as they used to. One segment appears to be utterly oblivious to the slowdown in China: Premium cars. Bitter rivals BMW and Audi are selling more cars in China than ever.

Audi celebrates its highest-ever September sales with 29,500 units, up 33.2 percent. Last year, Audi sold 225,588 cars in China, Audi’s largest single market. That number had been passed in the first week of October. “In 2011, we want to break the 300,000 unit barrier,” said Audi sales chief Peter Schwarzenbauer.

Sales of imported Audi cars totaled 40,500 units in the first nine months this year, up 68 percent. More than 1,400 of the imported A8L sedan were sold in China last month, double the number from September 2010. Despite long wait times, the top-of-the-line SUV Q7 registered sales of about 1,600 units, up 84 percent. The Audi TT also saw sales double in September to nearly 3,000 units.

Audi will have its entire lineup on the Chinese market by 2015, the company said earlier this year.

BMW increased its September sales in China by 20.9 percent. From January to September a total of 177,522 vehicles were delivered in the BMW Group’s third-largest market, an increase of 45.7 percent.

Over-the-top individualized bimmers are selling especially well. The BMW 7 Series Steinway & Sons global limited edition, featuring hand polished exterior piano lacquer in either black or white, sold out all 88 cars allotted to China four months after the model went on sale in April.

The run of this series was limited to 150 cars around the globe, more than half have been sold to Chinese consumers at prices of up to 3.2 million yuan ($502,000).

At the Guangzhou Auto Show, BMW will show the 760Li V12 25th anniversary limited edition. Built to celebrate 25 years of a 12-cylinder engine in a 7 Series sedan, only 50 of the cars will be made. All will go to Chinese buyers.

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2 of 10 comments
  • Cprescott Very expensive all terrain golf cart.
  • 56m65711446 ALL AEB systems should be tested using a SES executive from DoT as the test dummy.
  • TheMrFreeze Wife and I bought just bought new (to us) daily drivers...both have manual transmissions and neither has any kind of "new" safety nanny technology in it. By choice. That's how we roll.
  • IanGTCS Where I live safety inspections are only required when transferring ownership except between spouses. The ministry or police can in theory pull unsafe vehicles off the road but I haven't heard of that happening. Commercial vehicles over a certain weight required annual inspections and I've seen unsafe ones removed from the road a few times. I'm honestly fine with no regular inspections. A ball joint or bearing can go from fine to goodbye wheel in less time than a year anyways. Can't say I see too many total wrecks driving around so it would be kind of pointless.
  • IH_Fever No. I'd rather that money be spent to enforce vehicle laws on an as needed basis. The 10 year old car with a check engine light on for some sensor is a danger to no one. The crapbox with 5 different color body panels, paper tags and saran wrapped windows is more of a concern.