Since I’ve started reading motoring magazines, I remember several manufacturers admitting that some of their products are designed for the American market. Sometimes, certain features had to be removed or added because of certain laws and regulations. For instance, not all Porsche GT3 models were available as road cars in the US. Apart from that, the Americans needed bigger cars, and usually bigger engines.
But, the rise of the Chinese economy has changed manufacturers’ position. Now they need to consider what the Chinese want from their cars.
It is one thing for Audi to build and sell its long-wheelbase Audi A6 in China. It makes sense and it sells well. But what I find rather upsetting is what Bugatti, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Porsche have done in recent months.
A couple of days ago, Bugatti showed us the Veyron Wei Long. This car’s specialties include carpets (and wheels) with Mandarin letters as well as a dragon theme on the fuel cap and the area between the seats.
It gets worse: Aston Martin has done a similar trick with the DBS Volante, Virage and V8 Vantage S Coupé. Called the ‘Year of the Dragon’ edition, just 88 of these cars will be manufactured. Highlights include 24-carat gold Aston Martin badges (!) and the choice of two shades of red or a gold exterior colour. Peak inside, and the dragon theme is also visible on the headrests.
This was also the case with Ferrari. To celebrate selling cars for 20 years in China, the Italian manufacturer said it would produce 20 special ‘China’ editions of the 458. And yes, there is dragon theme on the bonnet.
Maybe Toyota can launch a Hilux Big Five or Isuzu a Klippies & Coke edition in South Africa?