BMW and Mercedes-Benz have always been the German luxury brands for the well-to-do set in the United States, but in China, the two companies have been considered cars for the new money and retirees respectively.
Audi and Buick continue their dominance over the hearts and minds of Chinese consumers. Buick has historically been a hot brand in China, thanks to their long tie-up with the Chinese emperors of yore, but according to the New York Times, Audi’s prestige was cemented in the post-1949 era.
“Audi is still the de facto car for government officials,” said Wang Zhi, a Beijing taxi driver who spoke to the paper. “It’s always best to yield to an Audi — you never know who you’re messing with, but chances are it’s someone self-important.”
Audi has produced cars in China since 1988, 15 years ahead of BMW, and Audi cemented itself as the car of choice for government officials. The A6, in particular, has been especially popular, while BMW has become the car of choice for the country’s entrepreneurial class.
Meanwhile, Buick, which is seen as the car of choice for the 65+ set, sold 550,000 cars in China in 2010, triple what it sells in the United States. Mercedes-Benz, on the other hand, is viewed as the car for the geriatric set in China.
[Source: The New York Times]