Even though the local newspapers are full of stories about the Chinese economy slowing down, it’s by far and away the world’s biggest luxury car market.
It’s fair to say too that Jaguar has been slower than some to take full advantage. But it’s now coming out all guns blazing: selling a lot more cars, recruiting dealers and, crucially, it will be making XFs here by the end of the year – a must to get round the punitive import taxes.
This evening in a venue in the Chaoyang district of Beijing I witnessed part of the sales assault. The room was packed with dealers, prospective customers and the Chinese media. What we all watched was a 90-minute show designed to showcase the Jaguar brand.
So we got a Jaguar history lesson from chief designer Ian Callum (heritage really sells here) and then each model was brought on in turn, accompanied by a well-known local act. A trendy boy band singer with the F-type, a ballerina with the XF and an opera singer for the XJ saloon. It was the sort of thing that would seem a mite toe-curling in the UK, but tastes are extremely different here and the crowd lapped it up.
They went wild when the real star of the show turned up though. Jaguar’s new brand ambassador for China, David Beckham, appeared at the end in an F-type coupé. Like everywhere else he’s a mega-star here too and the association with brand Beckham is designed to give F-type coupé sales a major fillip.
Celebrity endorsements and these sort of events can seem trite, but they really work in China. And everything is pointing towards the Chinese-built Jaguars coming onto the market, when it should go gangbusters.
Currently China is Jaguar's biggest market, but only just. I’d be willing to bet that by this time next year it will be way out in front.