Car Sales May Be Slowing But China’s Tiger Moms Drive Demand for SUVs
As the 2012 Beijing Auto Show gets underway, one particular Chinese demographic is getting a lot of credit for fueling the auto industry: tiger moms. These moms who demand high performance and achievement from their children are clamoring for SUVs to run errands with, and the market is more than prepared to meet their growing needs.
“Automakers are swooping in with SUV models, even those that never had SUV models before,” said Zhang Zhiyong, an independent automotive analyst based in Beijing. “The segment is getting more crowded, which will definitely lead to price competition.”
Janet Lewis, an analyst at the Hong Kong-based firm Macquarie, reported that the growing middle class is responsible for the surge in automotive sales. She said, “Private car ownership was not common prior to 2000, but a family car is quickly becoming a desired — and attainable — consumer product.” Macquarie reports that China’s middle-class population will reach 600 million to 800 million in the next 10 to 15 years, compared with about 300 million now, which is about the size of the entire U.S. population.
Every major brand represented at the Beijing Auto Show seems to be featuring an SUV to capitalize on this demand.
Ford will be bringing three to show off, including the Kuga, which is aimed at families with a small child and that Ford plans to build at a new plant in Chongqing, southwest China.
Both the X3 xDrive 28i and the X6 from BMW will be on display. Sales of BMW’s X-series SUVs surged 92 percent in the first quarter to more than 20,000 units, according to the company.
Maserati will exhibit its new Kubang, which the company said it expects to go into production in 2013. Porsche AG promises to deliver a refreshed version of the luxury SUV, and Volkswagen’s Lamborghini will reveal an SUV study.
Daimler Mercedes-Benz predicts 2012 to be the “year of the SUV” as the company plans to release its China-made GLK at the show.
Hui Yumei, head of automotive research at Sinotrust International Information & Consulting (Beijing) Co., said demand for SUVs will continue to increase as more families buy their second car and the number of women owners increases.