China Is High On Luxury Cars

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

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.

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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  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X I'll gladly support the least "woke" and the most Japanese auto company out there.
  • Jmo2 I just got an email from the dealership where I bought my car and it looks like everything has $5k on the hood.
  • Lou_BC I suspect that since the global pandemic, dealerships have preferred to stay with the "if you want it, we will order it" business model. They just need some demo models on hand and some shiny bits to catch the impulse buyer. Profits are higher and risks lower this way.
  • Probert When I hear the word "patriot", I think of entitled hateful whining ignorant traitors to democracy. But hey , meant to say "Pass the salt."
  • Lou_BC A brand or inanimate object isn't patriotic. A person can buy said object based upon patriotism. I'd prefer to buy local or domestic. Is supporting one's fellow countrymen patriotic or logical? I'd rather buy from an allie than a foe. Is that patriotic or logical?