BMW, one of Audi’s main competitors, sold 5,742 units in China and Hong Kong last year, a rise of 51 per cent on 2000. Most of that growth was on the mainland, where it hopes to set up a production centre and expand its dealer network.
McCann expects the luxury car market to grow in line with China’s economy for the next four or five years, generally believed to be in the region of 7 per cent annually. Imports may rise as tariffs come down because of China’s WTO entry – the current 80-100 per cent level will drop to 25 per cent by 2006 under WTO accords.
揕ower import tax and duties after China抯 recent entry into WTO will lead to lower prices and higher demand for our cars,?says Rose Cheng, senior executive in charge of communications for Mercedes- Benz China. McCann is less optimistic, predicting that non-tariff barriers will still keep import prices high. 揑n the next fourto- five years we will still see duties,?he says. 揟he way the technical regulations are set up still need a lot of work ?there are still technical obstacles to importing cars.?
Marketing will become even more important in the next few years as competition stiffens. France抯 Citro雗 is exporting to China a Yn400,000-plus car, and Mercedes- Benz plans to boost its after-sales service. Audi is responding with new models ?in mid-November it launched the imported A-4 Cabriolet, priced at Yn500,000-600,000 and this year it will introduce a sports car, the imported Audi TT and the Quattro, an upscale sports utility car. Hirschfeld sees a big market in fashion-conscious Guangdong province for the A-4 Cabriolet, which is being marketed to 揹ynamic?individuals who drive themselves. 揑t will be a product fireworks,?predicts Hirschfeld.