Global Update

Sales of Luxury Auto Brands Rise in China—Capitalize on Opportunity With Your Products

  Luxury automotive brands in China
  Luxury auto sales are on the rise in China, up 34% in June. BMW expects its market share to grow more than 30% and Audi projects selling more than 200,000 autos this year.

BMW expects its sales in China in 2010 to grow by 30% to 120,000 units. Mercedes-Benz aims to sell more than 100,000 passenger vehicles in China in 2010, according to the company's vice president of sales and marketing. Audi, the top-selling luxury brand in China, is on course to sell more than 200,000 units in 2010. Those aren’t pipe dreams. Luxury-vehicle sales in China rose 34% in June to 35,445 units, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

Owners of those luxury cars are target customers for T.K. Lee, president of Rennen International, manufacturers of Donz Wheelz. Custom-forged wheels are a fast-growing business segment for Lee in the United States. He figures Chinese luxury owners will have the same desire as U.S. enthusiasts to flaunt their cars. Lee sources wheels from China, and his sourcing team is already selling a small volume of wheels domestically. He just started putting together an actual sales team and says he'd like to find a regional distributor.

That's one of Lee’s goals when he participates in the SEMA-CIAPE China Business Development Conference in Beijing in late September. Rennen International is one of 20 SEMA-member companies taking part in the conference, where participating SEMA members will be paired with relevant Chinese buyers in up to a dozen private, pre-scheduled meetings. One-on-one meetings with potential Chinese partners at this groundbreaking event will allow SEMA members to get to know the Chinese companies and the market.

Nitto Tires USA wants to get a feel for hot tire styles in China and meet potential partners, says Tyler Tanaka, account director at Cie Studios, the marketing and advertising firm handling Nitto’s advertising. Tanaka and Nitto marketing manager Gloria Miyamoto will be in Beijing.

“The trip is a wonderful opportunity for us to do some market research and find out what the current climate is,” Tanaka says. “The bonus is to meet with Chinese distributors.”

China’s economy grew by more than 11% in the first half of 2010. Sales in the luxury car segment surged by 55% to more than 205,000, according to J.D. Power and Associates. A locally produced stretch version of the Audi A6 sedan led the luxury pack in number of units sold at nearly 60,000. The imported Lexus ES series also sold well.

Although accessories made for U.S. cars don’t fit all locally produced models, many do, especially when the locally produced models are foreign brands. All are target customers for SEMA members. In Nitto’s case, its team of engineers and designers can produce model-specific and even one-off wheels, says Tanaka.

SEMA members in Beijing can ask potential Chinese partners about their product’s suitability for locally produced foreign models and even local models. The members signed up to attend the conference, scheduled September 23–26 in Beijing, include:

  • AEM Performance Electronics
  • American Eagle Wheel Corp.
  • BDS Suspension
  • Bushwacker
  • COMP Performance Group
  • DELTA TECH Industries
  • eBay Motors
  • Eibach Springs Inc.
  • Holley Performance Products
  • Injen Technology
  • K&N Engineering
  • Mr. Gasket/Prestolite Performance
  • NITTO Tires
  • Performance Motorsports
  • Rennen International
  • SCT Performance
  • Sheen Coatings
  • ThyssenKrupp Bilstein
  • Wheel Pros

Don’t get left behind. Register for the SEMA-CIAPE China Business Development Conference by contacting Linda Spencer at or online at