SEMA News - November 2009
By Yvonne Wang
The Chinese Specialty-Equipment Market
A brand-new 2009 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon costs $70,000 USD in China. The same vehicle averages only about $25,000 USD in the United States. Mr. Lai, director of sales and marketing for Hangzhou Xin-Works, indicated that the Jeep Wrangler is the new revolution for the off-road market in China. Typical Wrangler customers easily add an additional $15,000 USD in customization, according to this distributor in Hangzhou, China.
SEMA News spoke with Mr. Lai, director of sales and marketing for Hangzhou Xin-Works. Lai said that the firm services more than 50 small retail/installation and beauty shops across China, each of which uses foreign direct import brands. The company currently distributes AEV, Warn, Hella, Thule, Cooper, IPF, Optima, Milemarker and Sure Power brands. Its best-selling products include AEV Jeep Wrangler JK and TJ suspensions, AEV 17-inch Pintler wheels, Hella headlights and Thule luggage racks.
SEMA News: What are the most popular modifications among your retail customers and enthusiasts?
Hangzhou Xin-Works: The most popular categories of modifications among retail customers are 2- to 4-inch suspension kits. Anything above 4 inches would not be suitable for the Chinese market.
SN: How has the market changed from two years ago to now?
HXW: Two to three years ago, the Jeep Cherokee was very popular for customization. Enthusiasts would spend approximately $4,000 USD on adding front and rear guards, luggage racks, headlights and some exterior restyling. The Jeep Cherokee trend is now declining, and the Jeep Wrangler is the rising star in our industry.
SN: Please describe your typical customer and how much enthusiasts spend on average.
HXW: The range of customers varies depending on what vehicles they purchase. For example, a Toyota Land Cruiser customer usually spends $1,500–$2,000 USD on customization. One level above that would be a Toyota FJ Cruiser customer who spends $7,000–$9,000. The highest level would be Jeep Wrangler customers, who will spend a minimum of $15,000–$25,000 on customizing their vehicles with the most well-known imported brands.
SN: What are the most modified vehicles in your installation centers?
HXW: The most modified vehicles we see at our shops are the Jeep Wrangler Sahara and Rubicon, Toyota FJ Cruiser, Mitsubishi Pajero and Jeep Cherokee, Liberty and Compass.
SN: What percentage of your business consists of imported foreign parts and accessories?
HXW: About 80% of our business is predominately imported foreign brands, which are distributed among our network of retail shops across China. We also utilize the Internet and have become a supplier to many online retailers as well.
SN: Are you looking for new products? If so, what are the products your company is looking to import into China?
HXW: Yes, we are always looking for Jeep-application products made by U.S. manufacturers. We are especially interested in Jeep lift kits and shocks. Currently, only 30% of our products are imported directly from the United States. We are definitely looking to increase this percentage with specialty products suitable for Chinese enthusiasts.
SN: What suggestions do you have for our member companies looking to sell into China?
HXW: It would be useful if technical installation guides can be translated into Chinese and to establish a warehousing facility in China in the future.