By Benjamin Cost
The United States has always been infamous for its gas-guzzling behemoths of luxury cars – the Cadillac Escalade, the Denali, and any one of the Hummer monstrosities. But whereas the US has begun downsizing with smaller models of former luxury SUV’s and various hybrids, China’s super-rich demand a new breed of monster-sized motors.
Christian Mastro, Lamborghini’s GM of the Asia-Pacific region states, “Chinese customers love their big cars. All the brands are making cars more specific for the Chinese market.” (For any post-1950 American, this sounds eerily familiar).
Just take a look at the new four door, 260,000-euro, Ferrari FF family car and the largest model of its kind. Or if you thought your last Maserati struggled to maneuver in Shanghai traffic, how about the new Kubang, a Jeep-sized, SUV version of the Maserati to be unveiled in 2013.
Compare this to the target vehicles of the US, which have shrunk across the board, and not just luxury SUV’s:
For decades, mid-size sedans like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Ford Taurus have been best-sellers and the most common sight on American roads.
But the trend is starting to change. According to J.D Power and associates, an increasingly large number of buyers are downsizing and choose small cars such as the Chevrolet Cruze or even the Honda Fit.
In fact, J.D. Power forecasts that, for the first time in two decades, compact cars will outsell mid-size models by the end of the year. Moreover, it projects that by 2015, compact and sub-compact cars will have a 20% share in the U.S. market, while mid-size models’ share will shrink down to 14%.
By contrast, China’s luxury cars are not only puffing up in size but in quantity as well. Bentley alone saw its export sales double this year to 1,839 units, in direct correlation with the spike in the number of China’s super-wealthy. This past year, China’s billionaire class more than tripled in size from 82 to 271 while the country now boasts around 960,000 millionaires, up from 85,000 fewer than two years ago!
And as China’s car consumer base augments, so will its sway over the automobile market. According to Burt Wong, chief production designer at the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center in Shanghai, “In the future, what is made for the Chinese will also be made for the world.” Which, for the time being, appears to be super-sized luxury tanks.
But why the need for car-zilla? Bill Liu, 26, head of a Shanghai real estate company and proud owner of a Range Rover Evoque and a Lamborghini Aventador explains, “An SUV comes in handy when you need to ferry more passengers and things about, like when you go shopping.” So what are the metro, maglev, and that new ‘bullet’ metro train for again if not to ferry more passengers around in a speedier, cheaper, more environmentally-conscious manner?
Not to bash the super-rich, but inflating the size of sports cars appears the magnum opus of short-sighted ideas in today’s hyper-crowded China. Shanghai currently houses over 3 million registered vehicles, a number which increased almost 9% from a year earlier.
So what makes you think you can go from 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds in traffic thicker than the armor on a Rambo-Lambo? You’ll be lucky if you can go 0 to 60 in a week.
And if showing off the ballin’ design of your
compensator vehicle is your game, here’s some advice from our friend Melvin in Baby Boy:
“You got to learn the difference between guns and butter. What are the guns? That’s the real estate, the stocks and bonds. Art work. Shit that appreciates with value. What’s the butter? Cars, clothes, jewelry, all the bullshit that don’t mean shit after you buy it.”
And believe you me, China’s new luxury-mobiles are a giant New Zealand dairy’s worth of butter.
The Ferrari FF
The Maserati Kubang