SEMA eNews Vol. 12, No. 24, June 18, 2009

Jeep Wrangler, Toyota Land Cruiser, FJ Most Popular with Chinese Offroaders

FB Life, a large automotive website based in China, selected eight
offroad distributors that FB Life founder Kevin Lv believes are among
the best outlets serving Chinese offroad enthusiasts. SEMA interviewed
each of these firms to learn more about each establishment’s number of
employees and technicians, most customized SUVs, most customized brands
and specialty products.

SEMA found that the Jeep Wrangler,
Toyota Land Cruiser and FJ Cruiser were the most popular vehicles to
customize by the establishments and throughout China. Comments from
distributors demonstrate positive perceptions and increased demand of
U.S. offroad specialty products among Chinese offroad enthusiasts.

the specialty products identified as the most sought after brands
included Warn, Pro Comp, Rancho, ARB, TJM, Hella, IPF and BFGoodrich.
The most popular specialty-equipment parts among Chinese offroad enthusiasts are
suspension lift kits, front grille bars, tires and wheels and

  China Offroad Event
  The largest annual event for offroad enthusiasts in China is the desert festival. In 2008, the event drew 63 teams, more than 800 offroad vehicles, more than 2,000 individual participants and 71 media attendees.

As disposable income increases among the
overall Chinese population, more Chinese enthusiasts are able to enjoy
offroading. Lv noted that the most popular destinations for these
excursions among his members are Mongolia, Tibet and Yunnan in the
Southwestern part of China.

Chinese consumers have access to
both domestically produced and imported SUVs. The top selling
domestically produced SUVs in 2008 were the Honda CRV, Great Wall
Hoover, Chery Tiggo, Hyundai Tucson and KIA Sportage. The total number
of domestically produced SUVs sold in 2008 was 441,839 units.

SUVs are calculated separately in China, and, in 2008, there was a
significant increase of import SUV sales. According to calculations
from the Chinese Trading Center for Automobile Import (CTCAI), import
SUV sales in China are dominated by Japanese brands/makes. In 2008,
97,964 units of imported Japanese SUVs were sold; 39,253 units of
imported Korean SUVs were sold; and 31,598 units of imported U.S. SUVs
were sold.

The presence of U.S. SUVs has significantly
increased by more than 50%, going from 15,712 units in 2007 to 31,598
units in 2008. The most current results from CTCAI show the first
quarter sales of U.S. SUVs are 8,416 units, which is second to Japan at
13,327 units.

Jeep Wrangler  
The most popular off road vehicle at outing events is the Jeep Wrangler. Mr. Kevin Lv, whose company also FB Life also sponsors driving tours, outdoor photography, scientific expeditions, and large scale racing events in the offroad market, noted that Jeep Wrangler car clubs are the most popular within his social network.  

The most accessorized SUVs are imported SUVs.
Kevin Lv mentioned that a large percentage of enthusiasts who buy Jeep
Wranglers purchase the model new. This is especially true for the new
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, which has just entered the SUV market in China
and has captured the heart of many offroad enthusiasts. As for Toyota
Land Cruiser and Jeep Cherokee enthusiasts, there are a greater number
of them purchasing used cars.

“Consumers of import SUVs
like a Jeep Wrangler would almost never leave their vehicle in stock
condition,” commented Lv. “The purpose of purchasing an import SUV is
to customize it for outing events or professional offroad races. The
increasing number of import SUVs will create an increased demand for a
greater variety of offroad specialty parts and accessories.”

interviewed Yun Liang, a distributor of offroad parts and accessories,
established in July, 2002. The company currently has more than 40
employees. In addition to distribution, Yun Liang also provides repair
and installation, online retailing and outdoor camping.

Liang founder Mr. Zhu says his best sellers are Rancho three-inch lift
kits, Hella offroad lights and TJM winches. ARB front/rear guards and
AEV air snorkels are also popular. The most customized offroad vehicles
at Yun Liang are the Jeep Wrangler, Toyota Land Cruiser and Hummer H2.

According to Zhu, the spending capacities for his customers range
through three different levels. One level of customer spends
approximately $1,500 (USD) on lift-kit packages plus a few accessories.
The next level of customer spends approximately $5,000 (USD) on a lift
kit, front/rear guards, wheels and offroad tires and one or two sets of
offroad lights. The highest level of customer spends anywhere from
$25,000–$35,000 (USD) for a complete customization package, which may
include suspension kits, winches, front/rear grille bars, front/rear
struts, air compressor, air locks, front/rear leaf springs, complete
skid plate with belly pan protectors, offroad lights, roof racks, side
bars, air snorkels, bumper covers, auxiliary tanks, additional exterior
restyling accessories and offroad tires and wheels.

  Toyota FJ Cruiser
  According to Kevin Lv, founder of FB Life, the second most customized SUVs in China is Toyota FJ Cruiser. Among the upgrades on this yellow Toyota FJ Cruiser are a Fox Racing five-inch lift, coil springs, front struts and shocks, air lockers, front and rear bumpers, and BFGoodrich off-road tires.

also interviewed V-Man Tuning, a distributor of Fox Racing and TRD
products. Unlike most offroad distributors that carry a variety of
import brands, V-man tuning specializes in just two import brands and
the rest is on private labeling of its own V-Man brand. Mr. Liu, the
founder of V-Man Tuning, told SEMA that most customization requests he
receives are for Jeep Wrangler parts and accessories. Other popular
vehicles for customization are the Toyota FJ Cruiser, Toyota Land
Cruiser 80, Nissan Patrol, Mitsubishi Pajero and Suzuki Jimny.

Tuning receives great feedback on the quality of suspension kits from
Fox Racing,” Liu said. “We have been working on a few Toyota FJ
Cruisers with three-inch lift kits from Fox Racing to prepare for
professional races. Enthusiasts are willing to pay for the quality
products in this market.”

The distribution office of V-Man
tuning employs four customer service representatives. They also have
three fulltime mechanics. The best selling products are front grille
guards, suspension kits and roof racks.

SEMA spoke to Mr.
Yuan, the general manager of Bastion, another distributor selected by Bastion is a distributor and retailer of K&N, Rancho,
Pro Comp, IPF, Hella and T-Max products. There are a total of 20
employees at Bastion, and five of them are customer service
representatives dedicated to the wholesale business.

is the only distributor from the eight distributors that doesn’t have
an installation department, mainly due to the fact that the retailing
side of the business is much smaller in comparison to other
distributors. Bastion’s best selling products are K&N air filters,
Rancho suspension shocks, Pro Comp suspension shocks and IPF lights
Mr. Yuan said that each order placed by retailers can
range anywhere from two pieces to 40 pieces. “It is still unlikely for
a retail shop to purchase in large quantities. Retailers usually stock
very few inventories; some retailers would purchase from us after their
customers pre-order the products.”

Another distributor on the
selected list is 4WD China. At 4WD China, there are a total of 12
employees, and out of the 12 employees, two of them are technicians.
Mr. Su mentioned that the most customized vehicles are the Toyota Land
Cruiser and Nissan Patrol. The best selling brands are Optima, ARB,
Warn and OME. The most popular products sold among the best selling
brands are OME two-inch lift kits, Warn winch 9.5 XP, ARB front grille
guards and Optima batteries.

Mr. Su’s impression of U.S.
off road brands is very positive. He mentioned that the top three U.S.
brands he recognizes in the offroad market are Fox Racing suspensions,
King Offroad Racing shocks and Race Runner suspension shocks. “Most
enthusiasts are willing to spend $4,000–$6,000 (USD) to customize their
SUVs,” said Mr. Su. “A large portion of the total spending is spent on
suspension systems.”

Another distributor on the list was
Yongfa Trading, a distributor that focuses on the racing segment.
Yongfa Trading has a total of 18 employees, and only three of the
employees are technicians. The mission of the company is to focus on
supplying offroad products particularly for the offroad racing
specialty-equipment market. Yongfa Trading is divided into three
departments: Tuning, distribution and racing services. Racing services
is the largest market segment for Yongfa Trading.

“We are
reputable in the offroad industry in China. Our company carries high-end racing
products, such as Australian MCA suspension kits that cost
approximately $10,000 (USD),” Mr. Chen, a manager at Yongfa Trading
told SEMA. “High-end products require a deposit and two to three weeks
of product delivery time.” The best selling brands at Yongfa Trading
are Sparco, ATL and Toyo Tires. The most customized vehicles are the
Mitsubishi Pajero, V65 and Toyota FJ Cruiser.

Square, a company with a unique story behind the establishment of its
current distribution network, was another distributor on the list.
Energy Square initially started as a maintenance and repair center in
Beijing for Jeep-branded vehicles. With many years of experience in
technical repair, the company took a new challenge of adding an
installation center for offroad tuning. Shortly after, Energy Square
established its current distribution network for Jeep aftermarket parts
and accessories only.

Jeep Cherokee in Cina  
The Jeep Cherokee is the most customized SUVs at Energy Square and X Jeep China. Energy Square Founder, Mr. Du, says that the Jeep Cherokee’s popularity among China’s offroad enthusiasts is because it represents the offroad history of America.  

The most customized vehicle at Energy
Square is the Jeep Cherokee. According to Mr. Du of Energy Square, the
most popular products sold are ARB grille guards and roof racks, Warn
winches and Mopar accessories. There are a total of eight employees and
two designated technicians. The facility of Energy Square provides a
comfortable environment for its customers, and includes amenities such
as ping-pong tables and basketball courts for its enthusiasts whether
they are visiting or customizing their vehicles.

SEMA spoke
to Jizhi 4x4, which was originally known as Brother Guang 4WD until in
2005 when it decided to expand its business to include installation. In
2008, Jizhi 4x4 added another division through a partnership with China
Mitsubishi Ralliart and began to distribute racing parts and
accessories. There are 12 employees at Jizhi 4x4, and nine of them are
specialized technicians.

Mr. Wang, owner of Jizhi 4x4,
explained that the most customized vehicles are the Toyota Land
Cruisers, Toyota FJ Cruiser and Mitsubishi Pajero. The most popular
brands sold are TJM, ARB, Warn and IPF. Among the brands most requested
by Jizhi 4x4 customers are TJM pro lockers, TJM compressors, TJM front
and rear bull bars and Advanti racing wheels.

“We also
focus on tuning for small SUVs, such as the Honda CRV,” said Wang.
“There is a significant increase in the popularity of smaller SUVs, and
those customers add bull bars or roof racks.”

The final
distributor interviewed was X Jeep China. According to the company’s
owner Mr. Chen, X Jeep China is a large distributor and installer in
Hangzhou City, China. It has a total of 12 employees and two of them
are technicians. The top selling brands are IPF, Hella, Milemarker,
Thule, Optima, Sure Power and Cooper Tires. The most customized SUVs
are the Mitsubishi Montero and Jeep Cherokee.

Mr. Chen says
what differentiates his company from other distributors is that X Jeep
offers a large selection of offroad accessories rather than performance
tuning upgrades. For example, Thule luggage rack is one of the best
sellers at X Jeep China, followed by Hella headlights, Milemarker
winches and Optima batteries.

For the detailed contact information of the selected distributors mentioned in this article, download the China Trade Leads at

For additional information, access the China Market Report at or contact Yvonne Wang.

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