SEMA has compiled a list of 15 facts about the Chinese market:
- GM’s top selling market for Buick is not the United States. It's China.
- VW sells more cars in China than Germany.
- Bigger is still better in China, with consumers clamoring for larger vehicles, including SUVs, driving sales up 43% in the first quarter of 2008 compared to the same time last year.
- Per capita use of cars at U.S. 1915 level: Less than 4% of China’s population of 1.3 billion owns a vehicle (the same ratio the United States experienced in 1915, according to a recent Washington Post story).
- Gas prices are high, but not as high as in the United States, Europe or Japan. Due to government support, gas prices, while costly for the average Chinese citizen, are less than what they could be without this subsidy.
- While the practice is slowly being ended, many local governments ban small cars from driving on expressways. In 2006, the national government included in its most recent five-year plan an end to this ban. Legislation to enact it at the local level is still pending.
- Pickups are also banned from a number of city streets.
- Chinese motorists favor larger and roomier cars, which allow the vehicles to be chauffeured.
- Vehicle sales in China are likely to exceed that of the United States by 2015.
- Sales and installation of specialty automotive products operate in a “gray area,” and their legality is open to a wide degree of interpretation on a regional level. Enforcement is also very uneven. By one reading of the law, all vehicle modification is illegal. SEMA is working closely with the government to obtain clarification regarding which aftermarket products are legal.
- Despite this lack of clarification regarding specialty-equipment products, annual sales are estimated at $10–$15 billion (USD).
- There are an estimated 1,000 tuning shops for cars and light trucks. These outlets sell a range of products, including engine parts, handling and braking, specialty wheels, exhaust systems, suspension products and appearance applications.
- In addition, there are approximately 26,000 so-called car beauty shops located throughout the country. Car beauty shops vary greatly in size, goods and services provided. Among the products provided (and sometimes installed) are window tinting, car care products, electronic products, floor mats and seat covers.
- The most popular cars to accessorize are the VW Bora and Golf, Peugeot 206, Audi A4, Ford Focus, Subaru WRX, Honda Fit and Civic and the Suzuki Swift.
- Among SUVs, the most popular models to accessorize are the Beijing Jeep Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and Wranglers; Toyota Land Cruiser; Mitsubishi Pajero; Isuzu Rodeo and Chinese brand Jiangling Motors Landwind.
For more information on the Chinese market, download the SEMA report on the specialty-equipment market in China at www.sema.org/international.