|China’s Hottest Wheels for Executives: A Buick Minivan |
By Bloomberg News - Aug 20, 2012
General Motors Co. (GM) sells a model in China so popular with executives that it’s often lined up outside galas and high-end restaurants: A Buick minivan.
If it’s surprising that China’s business elite prefer these big, boxy models to luxury sedans, it’s perhaps more striking that GM’s Buick GL8 is the hands-down leader. The Detroit-based automaker did so poorly in minivans that it quit making them in the U.S., where they are often considered the least-glamorous family haulers, spurned by moms who prefer the style of a sport-utility vehicle.
“It is a perfect example of where one product can be revered in one country and reviled in another,” said Rebecca Lindland, an industry analyst with IHS Automotive. In China, the Buick GL8 is “ubiquitous, like a Town Car in Manhattan or chauffeured limousine in L.A. The assumption is that someone important is in one.”
Sales in China of the GL8, which retails for as much as 388,000 yuan ($61,000), rose 28 percent last year to 66,900, according to researcher LMC Automotive. That’s more than double the sales of Honda Motor Co. (7267)’s Odyssey, the No. 2 foreign-brand minivan, LMC said.
Minivan sales will grow 13 percent this year to 560,000 units, the second-best performing category after sport-utility vehicles, China’s Association for Automobile Manufacturers forecasted on July 26.