Automakers' China Push Comes With a Risk … of Offending

automakers china push comes with a risk 8230 of offending

If you woke up not knowing the Chinese hate “new car” smell, consider yourself a well-informed person now.

Successfully selling a new vehicle in China means having to avoid the many cultural and legal traps specific to that growing market, reports Automotive News.

What works somewhere else might be a massive faux pas for Chinese buyers, meaning one wrong minor detail and an automaker can kiss its expensive international expansion goodbye. That’s a big concern for American automakers eyeing China in the hopes of boosting their global sales.

The middle and executive class of the world’s most populous country can’t get enough of exotic nameplates that ooze status and prestige, a trend capitalized on by the likes of Buick, Cadillac, and increasingly, Lincoln.

Lincoln’s plush 2017 Continental was destined for China from the word “go.” With that in mind, it was designed with an emphasis on rear-seat comfort to cater to the type that don’t get their hands dirty.

But legroom and a well-cushioned backside doesn’t cut it. For China, Lincoln had to scrap the U.S. model’s cushy leather upholstery for a tighter fit that doesn’t have wrinkles or lines in it.

Wrinkly leather? Can’t have it. Sloppy, you see.

During transport across the Pacific, odor-absorbing carbon sheets will be placed inside the Lincolns to eliminate that repellent new car smell, which can be purchased by the bottle in the U.S. in order to impress your friends.

“They have high demands in terms of craftsmanship and fit and finish,” said Pei-Wen Hsu, deputy general manager of marketing for Lincoln in China.

Buick, which will produce the Envision crossover in China and export it elsewhere, has had to nix one of the model’s two front seat cup holders and replace it with a touchscreen. As well, because China forbids roof racks and trailer hitches on private vehicles (can’t tempt anarchy), those will also be getting the boot.

China’s centralized Communist government might not be all that responsive or sympathetic when it comes to reporting potholes, so Chinese Envisions are offered with less wheel (17-inch versus the U.S. Model’s 19-inch) and more rubber to cushion the inevitable blow.

If their country can’t provide a desired level of craftsmanship in its roadways — or public elevators and escalators — at least the country’s nouveau riche can feel safe in their own cars.

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  • S is for Supra S is for Supra on Mar 08, 2016

    Just make sure if you hit a pedestrian you run them over for good measure because in China it's cheaper that way....

  • Laserwizard Laserwizard on Mar 10, 2016

    Sadly, because the Chinese are idiots and love Buicks, that brand was saved rather than retaining Pontiac (which actually sold more vehicles in the US at that time). We get it. The Chinese are weird. And since it is only logical to pander to your customers, if you want to sell new cars there, you have to remove the new car smell.

    • VoGo VoGo on Mar 10, 2016

      Fascinating logic. GM for 30 years destroyed Pontiac, but "idiot" Chinese consumers are the ones at fault for GM closing Pontiac. Just an amazing leap of logic that can only be created by a true wizard of lasers.

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.