SHANGHAI -- To appeal to local buyers, Volkswagen added more chrome and wood to a notchback version of its Polo small car that it sells in China.
Research by Shanghai Volks-wagen Automotive, VW's joint venture with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., showed that Chinese buyers prefer cars with highly visible chrome exterior fittings.
"Our philosophy is to match Chinese needs and demands with international design standards," said Stefan Fritschi, head of design at Shanghai VW.
Shanghai VW launched a face-lifted Polo nothback here earlier this month. The carmaker added chrome on the grille, bumper and side panels and wooden accents on the dashboard.
Shanghai VW calls the Polo notchback the Polo Jinqu, which means dynamic aspiration. It also sells a Polo hatchback, called the Polo Jinqing, which translates into English as dynamic passion.
Polo is No. 7
The Polo is the seventh best-selling small car in China, according to consultancy Automotive Resources Asia. In the first five months, Shanghai VW sold 13,859 Polos in China, said the consultancy. The top small car was the Xiali Charade, which sold 81,282 units.
VW decided to place more emphasis on meeting Chinese customers' demands after its sales and market share in China plummeted over the past few years as competition from foreign and domestic automakers increased.
Shanghai VW's sales dropped to 250,061 units last year from 354,328 units in 2004, according to Automotive News Europe's 2006 Guide to China's Auto Market.
Shanghai VW also produces the VW Gol, Passat, Touran and Santana models.
VW's other Chinese joint venture, FAW-Volkswagen Automotive, builds the Bora, Golf, Jetta, Caddy and Sagitar as well as the Audi A4 and A6.
Last year VW's two joint ventures sold 480,809 units in China, down from 672,392 units in 2004, according to ANE's Global Market Data Book.
You may e-mail Katherine Peavy at [email protected]