The past three years have been considered easy ones for new car sales for Chinese manufacturers. But 2012 is a different animal all together. First quarter sales stood at 4.79 million units, down 3.4 per cent on the previous year. Chinese car manufacturers now have a 30 per cent market share.
With the easy sales gone, and market share eroding, Chinese manufacturers have to look at boosting their marketing and technology, the big focus for the Chinese this year seems to be technology, specifically small displacement, high output engines.
Green was the big focus of previous motor shows, but the industry seems to have realised that consumers are not in a great rush to buy hybrids or pure electric vehicles just yet, so the short term focus is on fuel sipping engine tech. Turbo charging and direct injection seem to be the hot buzzwords. BYD, SAIC and Great Wall will all air their turbo line ups.
Business orientated vehicles, especially saloons, which once ruled the Chinese sales charts are giving away market share to more lifestyle-orientated vehicles. SUVs and MPVs have therefore become the driving force behind the Chinese market. As salaries continue to improve in China, so do people’s habits, people are thinking ahead of making money and starting to enjoy life. SUVs and MPVs have filled in the perceived gaps in the Chinese consumers life.
Chinese motor shows of past have been great gambits of whose been copying who. It was always fun to see which famous car model had inspired whom and how much less they were planning to sell it for.
By 2009 Chinese auto manufacturers started to enter into a period of maturity. Cloning was noticeably down at the 2009 Shanghai show and by 2010 in Beijing it was virtually non-existent aside from a few smaller manufacturers that were still keen on appropriating existing designs for their own use.
This year’s Beijing motor show is going to be the biggest, and most important ever. Such is the demand from exhibitors, both domestic and foreign, and the amount of new products they want to show, the biggest challenge will be fitting them all in the show halls.
Ash Sutcliffe; Editor, China Car Times
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