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CEIBS Holds 10th Annual China Automotive Industry Forum 2012

In concluding, Mr. D' Ornellas Silva asserted that " Latin America has been an important test ground for Chinese brands… what happens in the region is of extreme importance and will enable Chinese brands to learn and to expand business to other countries."

Guillaume Saint, Senior Director of TNS Automotive China, spoke next, focusing on "Trends Among Car Consumers." Automobile demand in China has been influenced by an increase in disposable income, said Mr. Saint, explaining that the post-eighties generation are important buyers, and that now more women are joining the market for new cars.

The post-eighties generation is characterised by a greater desire for individualism, inner gratification, and trendiness, he asserted. He explained that for this group, cars must fulfil the obvious practical requirements, but beyond this, a car must show off the owner's lifestyle and status. In China, he said, the exterior of a car is more critical than it is in the West, with the front of the car being especially important – it should show power and balance.  In terms of the interior of a car, Chinese consumers focus on spaciousness, related Mr. Saint.  He explained that the comfort of the passenger is paramount, particularly in vehicles used for business. Another preference that is unique to China concerns the front seats and dashboard of a car, where more buttons and gadgets are favoured. Mr. Saint described a study in which German drivers were found to be happy with fewer buttons, while Chinese drivers preferred more, since buttons and gadgets add a sense of high-technology and luxury. Light colours also prevail for the interiors of passenger vehicles, Mr. Saint said.

A panel discussion moderated by CEIBS Professor of Operations Management and Director of the CEIBS Centre for Automotive Research Thomas Callarman then began. Joining the speakers for the panel was Wang Guorong, who is Dean of the Shanghai Dongchang Development Institute, and also Research Fellow at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Mr. Wang spoke about his organisation's important research report, which forecasted the growth of the market. 2001-2011 was the first golden age of China's auto market, said Mr. Wang, adding that he and his colleagues foresee 2020 as another turning point in the market – the aim is to produce 40 million units by then.

The panel discussion and audience questions covered topics such as the globalisation of consumer demand, the SUV market, and first car buyers. 

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