Beijing Auto Show 2014 – Trends and OverviewTue, 29 Apr 2014
With the New York auto show just one week earlier, many carmakers took the decision to use the Beijing show as their preferred choice of launch event. While the NYC expo holds decent sway on the US East coast, it could never hope to compete with the lure of the world's biggest – and fastest expanding – car market.
With over 1,300 cars on display from scores of brands – both domestic and foreign – it's a fascinating bazaar of automotive hardware across the entire bandwidth of the industry.Market
We all know China is the world's largest car market, but what exactly does that mean in terms of numbers?
This year, car sales are expected to grow by 8-10 percent to over 24million. And don't forget that fewer than 10 percent of Chinese households own a car so far.
Within these huge numbers there are shifts towards certain market segments. Sales of premium cars, for example, are rising at a far faster rate than the overall market, and are expected to overtake the US by 2016 and Europe by 2020. Meanwhile, the currently tiny 'new energy' (EV and hybrid) market will double this year to 35,000 and is predicted to hit five million by 2020. Increasing pressure to reduce pollution has prompted the government to offer incentives to those buying EVs. No wonder Range Rover and Bentley chose the show to launch new hybrid models.Macro Trends Towards Autonomy
Dayoushangji Range Rover
It's no secret that, while cars are increasing in popularity in China, there is more a culture of cars than driving. Being driven is commonplace for those of even a modicum of wealth. As such the rear of cars designed for this market receives as much, if not more, attention than the front. This is spawning a move towards limousines that are beginning to separate – either physically or metaphorically – the cockpit from the occupants' quarters. It's not a huge leap to imagine the removal of the front of the cabin entirely, leaving us with a decent idea of how autonomous vehicles may look. If any market is to be accepting of self-driving cars, this is it.Off-road Motorsport
While most of the world associates motorsport mainly with circuit racing and the low, light machines that are used to achieve super-fast lap times, the sport's representation here was focused almost exclusively on off-road, raid-style rally racers. These rugged, jacked-up SUVs say something rather different about a brand than a delicate track car. The message is "I am reliable and tough" rather than "I am the ultimate speed machine." This goes some way towards the current obsession with crossovers – are these China's sports cars?
By Owen Ready