I’ve just come back from three days in Shanghai, perhaps the most international of China’s megacities.
Inevitably, you end up spending a few hours on buses, staring out of the window at the astonishing infrastructure of the place. From the massive motorway network, to the choice of either a tube train or super-fast maglev train when leaving Shanghai’s hugely impressive airport.
But, like I’m sure you would, I spent most of my time on the bus just watching the passing traffic. It doesn’t take long to realise that, in this city at least, virtually all of the passenger cars on the roads are from foreign manufacturers, even if they are locally built.
The only domestic cars that seemed to have any real presence on Shanghai’s streets were Roewe 550 saloons and a smattering of the new MG3 supermini. Of course, the Roewe 550 has its roots in the Rover 75 and the MG3 was mostly engineered and designed in the UK.
This, no doubt, is something that the more affluent Shanghai buyers know this well. An ‘international’ brand car – to use the local shorthand - is the first choice of Chinese buyers, most of whom are first-time buyers in their 20s.