British carmakers will make their presence felt in the potentially vast Chinese market at a motor show in the capital Beijing next month.
Aston Martin is displaying a DB9 and V12 Vanquish on its stand and the company’s general manager of sales operations, Ian Minards, described its involvement as “very much a fact-finding visit.”
He said: “China is a very complex market and the luxury sports car potential is unknown. We want to gauge the reaction from the public and prospective partners. As yet we don’t have brochures in Mandarin.”
Minards said Aston Martin had commissioned market research but that had produced: “as many questions as answers.”
The company is hosting a pre-show reception at the British embassy in Beijing as part of its “listening exercise.” Aston Martin has not set a timetable for establishing a sales and service network, nor established volume targets.
Dr Ulrich Bez, Aston Martin’s chairman, will be part of a high-profile PAG delegation, which includes Joe Greenwell, Jaguar and Land Rover vice president, Mark Fields, executive vice president of PAG, plus Mike Wright and Matthew Taylor, respective managing directors of Jaguar and Land Rover.
PAG’s other brand, Volvo, is developing a sales and distribution network for the various brands. Last year’s volume in China was 2,500 Volvo, 430 Land Rover and 10 Jaguars.
Jaguar officially launched the brand in March and has five sales and service points, stocking XJ and S-type with the smaller X-type available only to order.
Rolls-Royce, optimistic that China will emerge as one of its larger volume territories, has three sales operations.
BMW’s Mini brand, launched in Beijing last summer, sold 1,263 units in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong during 2003 and so far this year has sold 374 units.