SEMA eNews Vol. 12, No. 26, July 2, 2009

A Look at the Passion—and Purchase Power—of Chinese Off-Roaders

 Mr. Li in Jeep
  Enthusiasts in China are not just active on the trails, they also visit online forums and lifestyle websites regularly to learn about the latest products and off-road outings.

SEMA had the opportunity to speak to Chinese off-road enthusiasts introduced by the distributors recommended by FBLife.com, a large automotive website based in China. The off-roaders were asked how much money they spend on customization, the details of the modifications, future modifications planned and where they collect information on specialty products.

Mr. Li, a loyal customer of the off-road parts and accessories distributor Yun Liang and an active member of FBLife.com, is a small-business owner living in Beijing, China. He has spent the past 10 years as an activist in major off-road outings. Li obtains most of his knowledge on specialty products by communicating with representatives from Yun Liang and by speaking with other enthusiasts.

“Most magazines on specialty off-road tuning are in a foreign language. With the limited foreign language comprehension, most of my knowledge is through word of mouth,” commented Li.

Li has spent approximately $5,000 (USD) on his Jeep Wrangler thus far, and it currently is outfitted with a three-inch lift kit, Warn winch, HID driving lights, off-road fog lights, Mopar side steps, fender flares, off-road bumper (front), chrome trim and BFGoodrich off-road tires. He plans to add an air snorkel and restyling products, such as rock rails and rocker guards.

Chinese Off-road Enthusiast
 
The Jeep Wrangler Sahara is a popular vehicle among off-road enthusiasts and the media in China. This Sahara features about $20,000 in specialty equipment.
 

Mr. Zhang is another loyal customer of Yun Liang, and he refers to himself by the alias “Survivor.” He is a part-time professional off-road racer and spends most of his weekends on off-road outings. His 1996 Jeep Wrangler 4.0 is designed for the Southwestern province of China where there are many mountainous areas and river valleys.

Zhang’s Wrangler is equipped with Yun Liang’s two-inch front and rear suspension kit, ARB rear air locker, WARN 9000XP winch, ARB winch mount, PIAA lights, rear bumper, hood hinges, windshield tie down kit, Omix chrome mirrors, 15-inch aluminum wheels and BFGoodrich off-road tires. His future customization plans include tail lamp guards, Wrangler tubular front bumpers and towing accessories.

Zhang is very active in off-road enthusiast social networks in China, and his knowledge of specialty products comes from his daily acquaintances. “Information flows naturally based on my circle of friends; many product releases are discussed. I also visit off-road enthusiast websites regularly to view pictures and details of project vehicles,” he said. “There are BBS forums that I post pictures of products that I have seen and moderators will reply with where to purchase such products.”

Mr. Liu, an enthusiast who is a friend and customer of off-road accessories distributor V-man Tuning, has spent nearly $20,000 (USD) customizing his Sahara. He feels that the exterior restyling and suspension upgrades are complete and is planning to add mobile electronics in the future.

Liu utilizes FBLife.com’s online shop to gather information on specialty products from the vendors that post updated product information. He says that taobao.com, another online shop, is also good to compare prices and gather updates on specialty products.

 Toyota Land Cruiser
  Mr. Su, the manager of the off-road accessories distributor 4WD China, says that it is common for off-roaders to spend $5,000–$6,000 on their vehicle’s first major upgrade.

“Among the specialty distributors and retails in China, a great deal of them also sell online retail through Taobao.com,” said Mr. Liu.

While the owner of this Toyota Land Cruiser (right) was not available for the interview, Mr. Su, the manager of the off-road accessories distributor 4WD China, says that the owner spent $6,430 (USD) on off-road gear. Among the additions to the Cruiser are front grille guards, headlights, a suspension kit and an air snorkel, upgrades that Su says are common among off-road enthusiasts in China. He also says that it is typical for off-roaders to spend between $5,000–$6,000 on their vehicle’s first major upgrade.

For contact information on the selected distributors in this article, download the China Trade Leads at http://www.sema.org/downloads/china/top-china-distributors-database-region. For additional information, access the China Marketing Report at www.sema.org/international or contact Yvonne Wang.

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