Audi got its start in China 25 years ago producing black A6 limousines for the government but says today 90 percent of sales are to private buyers.
That is reflected in colors requested by customers, 60 percent of which are now orange, yellow and other light shades, according to Dominique Boesch, president of the Audi sales division at the company’s FAW-Volkswagen joint venture.
Audi’s plans one new dealership per week through 2017 and doubling the sales staff to 50,000 people. An employee training center it’s building in Beijing will be its biggest in the world.
GM is building a Cadillac factory in Shanghai and hopes to double the brand’s annual sales to 100,000 by the end of 2015.
Cadillacs sold in China are designed for local tastes with more attention to rear-seat comfort, said Joseph Y.H. Liu, a GM China executive.
“Stereo control and curtains for the rear seat are a must,” he said. “So is the 2.0 turbo engine. The Chinese consumers expect that.”
Lincoln wants to reinvent itself in China, shedding its staid image at home and targeting younger buyers.
The company promises personalized service in dealerships equipped with waterfalls — a symbol of prosperity in China — and a custom-designed scent. Buyers will be able to customize details of any Lincoln models, including the compact MKC sport utility vehicle aimed at younger drivers.
“As far as what makes us different, it will come down to the hospitality-oriented experience that customers will get, plus the personalized product,” said James D. Farley, Jr., a Ford executive in charge of Lincoln’s global marketing.
Lincoln is a latecomer to China but Farley said could help make it feel more exclusive in the German-dominated market.
“When you are selling premium-ness, and you see the product everywhere, and that happens because you only have three brands, there are opportunities for challenger brands,” said Farley.