Especially here in Shanghai, one look out onto any main street and you’ll see luxury car after luxury car roll by. Anyone with half a brain could deduce that the Chinese have money and love to show it off by their choice of ride; that’s certainly not rocket science. That the top three luxury car brands are all German–Audi, BMW, followed by Mercedes-Benz — is not news either. We could’ve guessed that one too. However, where the market research from J.D. Power & Associates becomes interesting is its demographic breakdowns on who’s buying these cars.
According to their data, Audi buyers tend to be government officials who incidentally are the leading consumers of luxury cars in China. BMW, of which the most popular model is the 5 series, attracts young business people, usually entrepreneurs who have hit the pay dirt. Good ol’ Mercedes-Benz is the preferred choice of senior (in age and rank) businessmen and government officials.
So while younger BMW drivers usually will drive themselves, Mercedes and Audi owners typically have a chauffeur. Though regardless of whether they are driving themselves or being driven, most Chinese prefer an extended wheelbase or basically their car to be extra big. All three German car makers have launched larger models exclusive to the Chinese market to cater to that.
As if that wasn’t pimp enough, Yang Jian, editor of Shanghai trade paper Automotive News China, says that when they purchase a vehicle, Chinese drivers will pay hard cash for it too. “Chinese people don’t lease cars. They can certainly get a loan, but these buyers all have the cash.”