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China’s Top Eight Performance Accessory Retail Centers
|The Subaru WRX/STI and Mitsubishi Evolution are the most modified vehicles among the top eight retail installation shops interviewed by SEMA. (Photo courtesy of Dyno King Tuning Shop, Shenzhen, China)|
|The Nissan GTR is one of the most modified vehicles at Dyno King. It is also the only retail tuning shop for repair, maintenance and professional tuning for Nissan GTR in Southern China.
|Dyno King carries Espelier, Apexi, Cusco, AP Exhaust Products, Tein, Endless, Defi, Gab, Trust, HKS, Bilstein, Pagid, BBS, NGK, Denso, OZ, Simota, K&N, Pipercross, H&R, K&W, Koni, Neuspeed, Soax, Weds, Rays, Brembo, Wilwood, Remus, AC, Hamann, Brabus, Techart, Summit, Pivot, Enkei, Work, Prodrive, Sard and Devil.|
|The Volkswagen Bora is another popular vehicle modified by Dyno King. This VW Bora has European, Japanese and American parts.|
|The Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Evo make up 90% of the cars being modified at SRT. (Photo Courtesy Modi Auto)|
|Motoring Club reports that its customers are willing to spend $16,000–$17,000 on performance modifications.|
|Several enthusiasts and technicians of Motoring Club examine the just-completed modifications.|
|This 2008 Subaru STI project vehicle modified by Full Throttle Motorsports has about $54,000 in accessories and installation services.
|This is another vehicle modified by Full Throttle Motorsports and is equipped with an ATP turbo kit, GReddy Injectors, Sard fuel pump, Agency-power fuel rail, Sard regulator, Hydra EMS tuned, Okada coils, Greddy 8 plugs, Exedy twin plate clutch kit, Cusco rear LSD, Stop tech brakes, Rays 18-inch wheels, Greddy coilovers, Cusco roll cage and tie and sway bars. Total modification package is worth approximately $50,000 (USD).
|Wang from Hand Win Racing said that a typical modification in his shop for a Nissan S 15 would consist of a Trust turbo kit, HKS ECU programming, SARD fuel injectors, boost controllers and special technician programming to increase horsepower up to 1.1 bar.
Modi-Auto—a large Internet media website offering information to Chinese enthusiasts on car tuning, styling and technical information—identified eight leading distributor/retail centers that they believe to be among the best outlets serving Chinese automotive enthusiasts. SEMA interviewed each of these companies and inquired about the leading vehicles modified among their customers, top major brands or products sold in their retail shops, most modified car makes among their customers, installation capacity and size of the company. Contact information for these companies is available to SEMA members online or by contacting Yvonne Wang at email@example.com. A reference guide produced by SEMA on the Chinese market, “The Specialty Equipment Market in China,” is also available online at www.sema.org/international.
Among the top brands modified by the shops interviewed are the Subaru WRX/STI, Mitsubishi Evolution, VW Bora/Jetta and Golf and Honda Fit. Though still relatively new to the specialty market, retailers in China are growing in their technical abilities—all of the retailers we spoke to had installation ability and had on average nine employees with a minimum of four technical specialists. The most popular modified parts installed are: intakes and exhausts; front, rear, upper, lower tie and sway bars; suspension components, such as springs and shocks; electronics, such as gauges, turbo timers, controllers and ECUs; and turbo parts to increase performance.
SEMA also talked to two member companies that are active in the Chinese market about the progress they are making. Neuspeed—a manufacturer of high-performance engine, suspension, exhaust, braking and accessory products—responded that their sales in China has grown more than 20% in the last 12 months. “Suspension components and engine performance modifications are the most popular product sold to China at this time," said Joe Chuan, general manager of Neuspeed. “Demand from China has always favored the suspension and performance components, and I do not anticipate any change for quite some time. On the other hand, consumers in China have changed quite a bit. Nowadays, they are definitely more educated about the cars and the parts they want.” Chuan also feels that Chinese dealers are demanding quality parts that can be sold with a healthy profit margin.
Another active member in the Chinese specialty market is K&N Engineering, a manufacturer of performance high-flow air filters. K&N started pursuing the Chinese market in 2002. International Account Manager Cynthia Wert told SEMA that K&N started expanding its sales to China by attending several automotive tradeshows. Since January 2008, K&N has successfully established five points of distribution in China via Taiwan and Hong Kong distributors. In April of 2009, K&N obtained a new distributor in Shenzhen. To better service its distributors in China, K&N has established a modified version of its website in Chinese www.knairfilters.cn. According to Wert, the K&N Apollo universal cold-air intake kit has received rapid growth since it was launched in March 2007. “The China market is very keen on made in the USA products at a very competitive price,” Wert commented.
The world of flashy wheels, lowered suspension systems, refined exhausts and flamboyant exterior restyling is being integrated into more and more lives of the Chinese. Dyno King Tuning—a retail installation shop located in Shenzhen, China—has 20 employees, five of whom are designated technicians. Dyno King carries Espelier, Apexi, Cusco, AP Exhaust Products, Tein, Endless, Defi, Gab, Trust, HKS, Bilstein, Pagid, BBS, NGK, Denso, OZ, Simota, K&N, Pipercross, H&R, K&W, Koni, Neuspeed, Soax, Weds, Rays, Brembo, Wilwood, Remus, AC, Hamann, Brabus, Techart, Summit, Pivot, Enkei, Work, Prodrive, Sard and Devil brands for its customers. The three top-selling products at Dyno King are turbo kits, ECU-related tuning and pistons. The top three modified cars are the Mitsubishi Evo, Honda Civic and Nissan GTR. For the most popular products, a small inventory level is carried; for example: shocks and brakes for popular modified car applications. Some more specialized products/brands requests by customers would need special orders; they would order directly from manufacturers overseas as long as a a minimum order quantity is met. In other cases, they would also go through distributors in Hong Kong for products they don’t have in stock. Dyno King's manager reiterates that there is no standard purchasing procedure and infrastructure formed among retailers in China.
Super Racing Team, also known as SRT Shanghai, originally started off as a car club that hosted many events across the nation. In recent years, SRT established its own retailing/installation center in Shanghai that focuses on modifications of the Mitsubishi Evo and Subaru WRX/STI. In fact, more than 90% of the modified vehicles at SRT are Mitsubishi Evos and Subaru WRXs/STIs, with a small portion of Porsche 911s. SRT Shanghai employs seven employees who are skilled to work on vehicle modifications. The best-selling brands at SRT are HKS, JUN and GReddy/Trust. Since SRT focuses on performance upgrades, it does not sell any body restyling parts or accessories.
SEMA spoke to Mr. Wang, owner of Motoring Club—a retail installation tuning shop located in Hangzhou, China—that specializes in turbo kits and accessories. Wang told SEMA that most of his customers are males between the ages of 30 and 40. Most of them are self-employed, with the flexibility of a large amount of disposable income utilized toward their side hobby: car tuning.
At Motoring Club, customers are advised to modify their exhaust system first, then the intake, followed by the ignition. The final advised upgrades are body kits, shocks, sway/tie bars and brake systems. On average, an enthusiasts can spend anywhere from $15,000–$22,000 (USD) on car modifications in his shop. The best-selling brands are HKS, JUN and GReddy/Trust. There are six employees, and each of the technicians holds their own expertise in car tuning. The top three most modified cars at Motoring Club are the Subaru WRX/STI, Mazda RX8 and Mitsubishi Evo.
“Most of the body restyling we work on are Subaru STIs or Imprezas; we work on body kits, carbon-fiber hoods, carbon-fiber spoilers, mud flaps, antennas and air dams,” said Wang. “It is also very common for many enthusiasts to purchase a set of vehicle stickers after just a few body-restyling accessory purchases. That would complete their modifications.”
Wang also stated that most of the enthusiasts who visit Motoring Club looking to modify Mitsubishi Evolutions are foreign graduates from New Zealand or Australia returning home after studying abroad. "They influence the car culture here in our city," he said.
SEMA also spoke to Zhang, a representative from Sky Motorsports, who said that the company focuses on performance upgrades. Its major clients are the enthusiasts who are mainly interested in taking their cars to races and track events. Zhang explained that it is very common for an enthusiast to spend anywhere from $15,000–$45,000 (USD) in engine-performance modifications.
Sky Motorsports specializes in engine swaps and adding turbos to virtually any make and model of car. The company only has five employees, and all of them have the capability to work on cars. The best sellers are engine replacements, turbo kits and brake kits. The top three modified cars are the Nissan Cefiro, Subaru WRX/STI and Nissan 350Z (also known as: Fairlady).
Moving closer to inland China, in Chongqing there is a tuning retail installation shop called Chongqing Rundong Performance. The owner of this shop received his undergraduate degree from a university in Japan, and he once worked for Toyota while ,studying there. The styling and knowledge of tuning comes directly from Japan. The most popular brands sold are HKS, TRD and Mugen. The top three modified cars are the Subaru WRX/STI, Mitsubishi EVO and BMW 3 Series. Although they do carry K&N products, knowledge of U.S. branding is very limited. The total number of employees at Chongqing Rundong Performance is four. The company moved to a new facility in May, and capacity and employee numbers may increase.
The following top retail establishments—Full Throttle Motorsports, Kings Mart Co. and Hand Win Hangzhou—are also involved in wholesale trade, importing several brands that they supply to other shops.
Mr. Poon of Modi Auto explained that many retail installation shops in China will eventually start to distribute a particular brand they begin to establish more sales volume with. As businesses grow, they may carry up to 20 brands at a time, but have the distribution network for only a few.
Full Throttle Motorsports is the mainland China distributor of Neuspeed products. It also carries Trust/Greddy, Rotora, Stillen, Motul, Stoptech, AEM and other imported brands. Full Throttle has 18 employees, which includes five mechanics. Bryan Jian, owner of Full Throttle Motorsports told SEMA that its top three most modified vehicles are the Subaru WRX, Mitsubishi Evo and Volkswagen Jetta. The top three parts and accessories sold are exhaust, intake and electronic components, such as ECUs, boost controllers, turbo timers and gauges. Unlike the majority of distributors in China, Full Throttle Motorsports sells a good selection of U.S.-branded specialty products. Jian refers to U.S. brands as having great quality, great fitment and unique styling. At Full Throttle Motorsports, the most popular U.S. brand is Neuspeed, followed by Stillen.
Jian also said that most customers who walk into his shop spend anywhere from $25,000–$60,000 (USD), on average, for vehicle tuning. He explained that this number may seem higher in comparison to other tuning shops because most of his products are directly imported from the United States and Japan.
Kings Mart Co., a distributor and retailer that started initially distributing only Sparco products, is now carrying more than 20 brands. Some of the brands they carry in their retail tuning shops are Sparco, Sabelt, KGS, Koni, Tein, Inter Alloy, NGK, Brembo, Denso, Buddy Club, Endless, Cusco, HKS, Blitz, Defi, Toyo and Auto gauges. Kings Mart Co. is a 10-employee retail tuning shop. Miss Luo, a representative from Kings Mart, said that its best-selling products are Sparco racing seats, NGK spark plugs and K&N air filters. The top three modified vehicles are the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit and Suzuki Swift.
Hand Win Racing in Hangzhou, China, initially started business by distributing Top Secret, a popular brand in Japan. Currently, in addition to distributing Top Secret products in mainland China, Hand Win Racing specializes in the retail installation of turbo engines, adding superchargers and replacing new turbo accessories for a variety of fitments. Most modified vehicles at Hand Win Racing are the Toyota Supra, Nissan S15 and VW Golf. Popular products accessorized by customers are turbo kits, ECU programming and suspension kits.
Poon of Modi Auto noted: “Most enthusiasts will spend on average $2,500–$5,000 (USD) on tuning their cars. Although this number can significantly increase or decrease depending on the amount of disposable income, on average, this number should provide a fairly significant amount of enthusiasts in China.”
Poon further stated that pricing structure among the south and north of China differs significantly. In south China, prices quoted do not include installation. However, in north China, prices quoted include installation. For example, there is a $200 (USD) average difference between accessories quoted with and without installation.