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Informative article from Automotive News on what a Chinese customer expects in a luxury car


China's sense of luxury could spread

Alysha Webb
Automotive News
May 17, 2007 - 10:17 am

SHANGHAI -- I just got back from vacation in California. While there, I took a ride in the new Volvo S80 sedan with my friend, Lou Ann Hammond, of I was struck by how austere the interior was. I found myself thinking, "A little chrome would make this car a lot more luxurious."

"Wahh!" I thought, slipping into Chinese. (Translation: "Whoa!") Am I starting to view car interiors through the eyes of a Chinese consumer? They tend to like luxury touches that may differ from those preferred by the typical Western driver.

In China, luxury usually means more chrome and fake wood. In higher-end models, it means features such as analog clocks, DVD players in the front and rear seats, more rear leg room, and the like.

U.S. and European consumers may soon see a few of the same luxurious touches, according to Mei Wei Cheng, CEO of Ford Motor (China). He called the new Mondeo sedan from Changan Ford a "European-learn-from-China" aesthetic.

To be sure, the Mondeo doesn't have excessive amounts of chrome. But it does have the analog clock and rear-seat DVD screens, to name a few Chinese-favored features.

General Motors is looking to China for ideas to help transform Buick in the United States into a more luxurious brand, as well. The Buick LaCrosse sedan sold here in China bears little resemblance to the same model in the United States. It includes little luxuries such as independently controlled DVD screens in the front and rear seats.

The China LaCrosse was designed at the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center here in Shanghai. GM turned to PATAC to design the new Buick Riviera concept sedan, which was shown at the recent Shanghai motor show, as well.

"I know it would do very well in the U.S.," says Ed Welburn, GM's design chief.

So I won't be surprised if, when I'm riding in some other car that Lou Ann is testing next year, I see an analog clock and maybe even a bit of chrome. Give it a chance, it might grow on you.

You may e-mail Alysha Webb at [email protected]

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Thank you for the very interesting read. I've been in the auto industry for about 13 years in many different aspects(all in GM stores) and am very intrigued by the Chinese auto market. I find it very exciting and I imagine that the excitement and enthusiasm in China right now could be likened to the excitement in the auto industry right here in the US in the early 20th century. Can you just imagine how someone must feel going into a car dealership for the very first time or simply sitting in a new car for that very first time? Wow!
Can anyone tell me how someone like me could possibly get involved in the Chinese auto-industry? I would think that with my experience I could bring alot to the table for someone in China. Any information would be greatly appreciated, and keep up the great work.
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