The recent Beijing Auto Show showcased a number of luxurious new vehicles from the world’s top automakers, including the Rolls-Royce Pinnacle Travel Phantom and the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse. Luxury brands from Ferrari to Bentley are vying to capture the important Chinese market, and have high hopes that their new makes will lure in buyers this year throughout the country.
Yet in addition to designing cars destined for the ultra-rich, auto manufacturers also showed a high interest in capturing the attention of younger buyers and those interested in environmental issues. To this end, one of the most prominent trends at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show was a prevalence of eco-friendly luxury cars.
Capturing Youthful Appeal
International brands have a strong interest in meeting the demands of young urban professionals in China, a demographic that wants a taste of luxury but is also interested in purchasing a model that’s a bit different. According to this press release, nearly half of young auto buyers consider a car’s environmental impact when making a purchase, and 80% report that their family’s health is an important concern. Young urban buyers want cars that produce fewer emissions, but are also concerned with chemicals within the car and air quality.
This has translated to strong sales for small, environmentally-friendly crossovers like the Ford EcoSport, as well as entry-level luxury cars from brands like Audi. The EcoSport is swiftly becoming a global success story, earning strong reviews from Australian website carsales.com.au with plans to launch in Europe this year. Yet it has already become a top seller in China, with 17,392 models sold between January and March of 2014 alone. To replicate this crossover’s success, automakers at the Beijing Auto Show showcased a number of other new crossover SUVs including the hybrid TT Offroad Concept vehicle from Audi.
Energy efficiency is becoming more important to Chinese luxury consumers, who want a car with the latest technology that also meets efficiency milestones. This trend was seen at the auto show with models like the A6 L e-tron hybrid model from Audi, as well as a new plug-in hybrid concept from Bentley. Foreign automakers have added incentive to tap into this market as they strive to meet new government demands for more electric cars. The Chinese government is committed to placing five million electric cars on the road by 2020, in an effort to combat pollution. Drivers can receive incentives for going green, including cash rebates.
Although the model wasn’t displayed at the auto show, Daimler announced their plans to launch a new fully electric vehicle in partnership with the Chinese company BYD called the Denza. This trend of eco-friendly partnerships could be a result of the high tariffs imposed on imported cars in China. Producing models domestically is a good way to keep prices affordable for the mass market even on luxury electric vehicles. The Denza is expected to retail at RMB 369,000 when it becomes available in September, which is a far lower price point than the electric Tesla which is its main competition. The Tesla sells for RMB 734,000.
From the Daimler Denza to Audi’s TT Off Road crossover, it seems that global automakers are eager to tap into China’s youth market and help the government achieve its pollution-cutting goals while still providing a high standard of luxury. If this year’s auto show is any indication, Chinese consumers will have more high quality electric options than ever in the year to come.
Rachel MacDonald covers businesses from Lima to San Francisco.
Note: Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Red Luxury editorial team.
image credit: daimler