China’s car market is now the largest in the world – 18.5m cars were sold there in 2011. And now China’s home-grown car manufacturers, such as Great Wall and Geely, are exporting cars to the UK. Will you buy them?
It should come as no surprise that carmakers flocked to the Beijing Auto Show last week to flog their wares.
And, in contrast to the shrinking European car market where we’re all downsizing to cut fuel and running costs, luxury cars are being snapped up quicker than anything else in China.
Jaguar’s sales in China were up by more than 150% in 2011, and it will soon have 125 dealerships there, compared to 90 in the UK.
And it seems the long-talked about exporting of Chinese motors to the UK is finally going to start this year too. The aptly named Great Wall Motors will be the first to land – with its Steed pick-up truck, followed by the H6 medium-sized SUV. And Volvo’s Chinese owner, Geely, will bring its Ford Mondeo-sized EC8 to our shores towards the end of 2012 too.
Comparisons to Japan and Korea
So would you be tempted by a Chinese car? Prices are likely to be temptingly low. And while some of the cars on show at Beijing were rather a mish-mash of contemporary and ancient styling, others looked just fine.
In the past year or so I’ve heard many people comparing the emerging Chinese motor industry with that of Japan, and more recently Korea.
Yes, Japan’s cars were abominable rot-boxes in the 1970s, but Japanese manufacturers soon realised they had to up their game. Now many Japanese brands grace the top slots in the Which? Car reliability surveys.
And Korea is just completing the transformation from undesirable bargain basement producer to creating some of the best looking new cars – Kia’s latest Cee’d and Sportage are just two good examples.
But I’m not sure that China’s made of the same stuff. Certainly many of the sub-standard electrical goods I’ve bought in the past decade, which ended in the dustbin far quicker than I’d have liked, were made in China. So I’m not convinced that China will be the next big thing in motoring – are you?