Small luxury sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are making big waves in China.
In the past four years, SUVs have become the most popular and the fastest growing vehicle in China’s automobile market.
About 1.33 million SUVs were sold in China in 2010, up by 101 percent year-over-year, and almost four times the sales growth of sedans, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. In the SUV category, small SUVs have the most growth potential in the future, according to Lu Mingze, automobile market research director for Sinotrust International Information & Consulting.
In a recent Sinotrust survey, “small SUVs have struck a chord with Chinese consumers, with 62 percent of the 974 respondents saying they would like to buy a small SUV and 12 percent saying they intend to buy a small SUV, compared with only 1 percent saying they are not likely to buy one.”
Given the continued surge in luxury SUV demand, German luxury car brand Porsche expects China will overtake the United States as its largest market by 2014.
“China has been our second-biggest market, with more than half of sales coming from our SUV model, the Cayenne. We expect it to beat the US to be our No 1 market in 2014, with significant sales growth from the coming, smaller SUV model, the Cajun,” said Helmut Broeker, chief executive officer of Porsche (China) Motors Ltd.
He said the company has yet to decide whether the Cajun model – which is widely expected to be very popular – would be produced locally because “local production of the vehicle would need at least 25,000 to 50,000 units in annual sales.”
Porsche’s sales could surpass 20,000 units this year, up 60 to 70 percent from a year earlier with 55 percent from the Cayenne, 30 percent from the four-door coupe Panamera, and 15 percent from sports cars.
“And we expect the number to double to 40,000 units in 2015,” Broeker said. “To prepare for it, we plan to have 100 dealers by the end of 2014.”
After 10 years in the market, Porsche will have 39 dealers around China. The company plans to add 20 more dealers by the end of next year.
“The strong growth brings a big challenge: We need to provide enough, and high-quality, service to the customers. So the major task for us in the next year will be training our dealers,” Broeker said.
To strengthen the Porsche brand in the Chinese market, the company will open a Porsche Driving Experience Center in China. The center will be located in Shanghai and will be the first and only one to issue an international race track driver’s license for Chinese sports car fans by an automaker.
Porsche has two other Driving Experience Centers that are located in Germany and the United Kingdom.
photo credit: porsche