Published on May 7th, 2018 | by Subhash Nair


This Chinese Motorshow Showed me Just How Different Their Market Is

Two weeks ago, we attended the 2018 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition (or Auto China 2018 for short). We were pretty blown away by the scale of the event, the number of participants (by 10am on press day, it was packed) and of course the slightly strange things about the Chinese car market.

China’s a pretty culturally isolated place, so understandably they do things a little different. But seeing just how different it was first hand was shocking. Here are some things that left us really puzzled.

  1. Strange model behaviourOne of the first cars on display was this “Marvel X”, which I believe is a concept. It looks good and all, but they had this caucasian dude stand next to it and caress it. Like, that was his job, to just run his gloved fingers over the car’s surfaces all day.He’s not even wearing socks.

    What made it even more surreal was the ominous, looped electronic sounds that were being blasted.

    In spite of the bizarre spectacle, there was a small crowd of people gathered with cameras. Of course, I was one of them.

  2. The strange company namesHonestly, this isn’t me poking fun. Brand names can sound odd at first, but become part of modern culture after a few years of exposure. What’s strange about this is just how many of these brands I’ve never even heard of before. Malaysians are no strangers to Chinese car brands. We’ve been exposed to Chery, Maxus, Haval, Geely and more. But none of these were familiar to me despite having complete, modern product portfolios.

  3. This company that forgot its own company name With so many new brands, you can’t blame me for forgetting how some of them are spelt (or deliberately misspelt, like ‘Leopaard’).But this brand, ‘Besturn’ had a concept car called the ‘T-Concept’ with a spelling mistake on the grille.

    Is it ‘Besturn’ or ‘Bestern’? Even they don’t know.
  4. World-class designs with developing world taste
    I did a post last week on some of the genuinely good looking Chinese cars we saw at the show. But in spite of such mature styling, China’s market seems to be large enough to accommodate tastes of all flavours. I mean, look at the badges on this car.And the really out-of-place graphic sticker on this SUV.

    Just goes to show how the Chinese market is practically another world.

  5. They’re all numbersWhen the Japanese and Koreans started out making cars for the world, they put some energy and thought into coming up with names for their cars. But many new Chinese companies haven’t bothered with that. All these cars just use alphanumerical model names, just like phones.

    Kudos to this company. They thought outside the box used the symbol for ‘Pi’.

    Maybe they mean for us to multiply the two values together. That would mean the car’s real name is the ‘21.99’. Also rather creative.

    Again, all very beautiful, tech-laden cars that probably drive well too.

    But it’s just too many different flavours of the same thing. Is it sustainable?

    We’re not sure. But from what we gather only the largest brands like SAIC, Haval, Geely and a few others have long-term, global strategies.

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Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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