|Subaru is one of the more popular makes among Chinese auto enthusiasts. The Outback model pictured here is the second most-sold in the country.|
Subaru is a popular brand for modification in China, says Liu Qingfeng, owner of the online aftermarket company carnet.com.
“We found that about 40% of Subaru consumers seek high-performance products,” he said. Subaru owners are also enthusiastic car club members, a channel through which Liu uses to reaches them.
The Subaru brand is thriving in China. In the first seven months of 2010, sales rose 78% on-year to 31,234 units, according to J.D. Power and Associates. The best-selling model was the Forester SUV at 20,124 units. The Outback was a distant second with sales of just more than 6,000 units.
Currently, all Subaru models sold in China are imported because Subaru does not produce cars in China. But in late August, Ikuo Mori, president of Subaru parent company Fuji Heavy Industries, told a Japanese newspaper that his company was in negotiations to form a car manufacturing joint venture in China, according to Automotive News.
Mori says Fuji aims for sales of 50,000 Subaru units in China this year, up from 35,000 in 2009. Eventually, the sales goal is 100,000 units annually, Mori said.
Other automakers have also announced product launches and plans in China that will spell opportunity for SEMA members. Toyota in late June launched the imported Lexus RX270 luxury SUV and the IS250 sedan and IS250C convertible in China. Luxury car owners have the money and the urge to upgrade their car’s performance. General Motors is going to start selling imported Opel cars in China by the end of 2010, Opel CEO Nick Reilly said recently. And Shanghai GM, General Motor’s flagship joint venture in China, said it will introduce 12 new engines from 2010 to 2015.
Engines with displacements between 1.4 and 2.5 liters will account for 95% of SGM’s total sales in the future. It aims to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 15% while enhancing performance by 14% by 2015. Owners of the cars will be looking for ways to boost performance while remaining more fuel efficient. SEMA members produce products that can help with that.
Ford will begin selling the imported Ford Edge SUV by early next year, and its Mondeo Ecoboost GTDI sedan in China in the fourth quarter of this year.
Local automakers are also expanding their product lines, and that can spell opportunity for SEMA members. Great Wall Auto, one of China’s largest SUV manufacturers, will update its best-selling Hover SUV (now rebadged as the Havel brand), offering four-cylinder gas and diesel engines. The Havel lineup will also include a larger, more luxurious crossover SUV with a hybrid powertrain and six-speed automatic transmission. More upgraded versions of the luxury crossover are also planned.
More than 21 SEMA-member companies will be in Beijing in September learning more about how they can take advantage of these expanding lineups. They are:
- AEM Performance Electronics
- American Eagle Wheel Corp.
- AMSOIL INC.
- BDS Suspension
- Bushwacker Inc.
- Comp Performance Group
- DELTA TECH Industries LLC
- eBay Motors
- Eibach Spring Inc.
- Holley Performance Products Inc. USA
- Injen Technology Co. Ltd.
- K&N Engineering Inc.
- NITTO Tires
- Mr. Gasket/Prestolite Performance
- Performance Motorsports
- Rennen International
- SCT Performance LLC
- Wheel Pros