Craze for luxury cars in China, hope for automakers but consumption mentality called flawed

11:03, April 28, 2011      

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Visitors take photos of a BMW concept car in the 14th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition in east China's Shanghai, April 21, 2011, the first day the exhibition open to public. About 2,000 carmakers and parts providers from 20 countries and regions showcased 1,100 car models, while 75 of which made their world premieres in the auto show. (Xinhua/Xu Peiqin)

The Shanghai Auto Show 2011 is set to conclude on Thursday with a "good harvest" for luxury brands, such as Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maybach.

The most eye-catching car was perhaps Aston Martin's One-77 from the United Kingdom. Five cars of this luxury model, which reportedly numbers only 77 worldwide, were provided especially for the Chinese market. All of the five were sold before the official opening of the Auto Show.

The car was priced at 47 million yuan (7.2 million U.S. dollars), the most expensive among the top 10 luxury cars at the eight-day event.

A widely spread story at the fair recounted how a Chinese man, aged more than 30 years old, came to the Aston Martin booth and had a glimpse at the exhibits. Only minutes later, he ordered a compact sports car valued at nearly 4 million yuan and then swaggered off.

According to HIS Automotive, a market research firm based in the United States, 727,227 high-end cars were in use in China last year. The figure is expected to reach 909,946 this year, and 1.6 million in 2015.

Media reports showed that more than 1,000 Ferrari cars are driven in China, which is expected to become the second largest market for the world's leading sports car supplier.

Last year also saw the sale of more than 120 Aston Martin cars in China, with an average annual sales growth of 50 percent in the country over the past few years.

Industry insiders believe that Chinese buyers of luxury cars at the Auto Show were probably private business owners and offspring from wealthy families.

According to research by the world's leading consulting firm, McKinsey &Company, luxury goods consumers in China are much younger than their counterparts in other countries. Such consumers are often between 18 and 34 years old in China, whereas their peers account for less than 30 percent of total luxury goods buyers in Britain.

Further, around 25 percent of luxury goods consumers are willing to buy without any discount, while the proportion was only 6 percent in Europe.

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