The rapid development of China’s auto market has led some cities to restrict new-car sales. It also has forced the country’s dealers to rely more heavily on selling used cars rather than new models. BMW brand sales boss Ian Robertson explained what the automaker is doing to cope with both changes during an interview with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Christiaan Hetzner.
You expect growth in China’s luxury car market to drop to a high single-digit percentage rate this year. What is causing the slowdown?
Earlier this year, Shenzhen became the eighth Chinese city to restrict the number of new registration plates issued each year. Since that regulation came into force, there have been far fewer new-car sales. Of course, there are other cities that are still expanding and thanks to them we will see growth continue in China, albeit at a more normal level than in recent years. There are also many macro-economic factors at play here.
What do new-car buyers do in cities such as Shenzhen?
Many customers dispose of their used car outside the city. They keep the old registration plates and put them on the new car.
How is the market for ultraluxury cars performing in China? Is that sector suffering from Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption?
The segment is not so visible any more. A number of potential customers are not prepared to be as expressive. The number of ultra-high net worth individuals continues to grow, but they are keeping a lower profile.