Auto News: Lotus Hits Beijing, MINI’s “Chinese Job”, Steinway & Sons BMW Has China Launch

Lotus Launched In China Last Week With Debut Of New Localized Logo

A roundup of news from the Chinese automotive industry, where an increasing number of top marques are debuting localized and limited-edition models in an attempt to maintain sales as the country’s auto market backs away from recent highs.

British Sports Car Maker Lotus Throws Hat Into Contentious China Market

Lotus China launch

Lotus China launch

The already crowded sports car market in China just got a little more crowded, as the British marque Lotus made its debut in Beijing last week. According to China Daily, the automaker has taken quick steps to localize operations, authorizing Symphony Lotus Ltd as its official China importer and distributor and debuting a new logo tailor-made for the Chinese market. As Dany Bahar, chief executive officer of Lotus, said at the launch, “The entry into the Chinese market is an important step for us to improve and perfect our global strategy. I believe China’s strong economy, as well as the Chinese younger generation and newly rich’s enthusiasm for niche sports cars will further fuel our business.”

Lotus will kick off operations in China with its first dealership and showroom in Beijing this October, followed shortly thereafter by dealerships in Shanghai, Chongqing and Guangzhou later in the year. According to Zhang Lichen, chief executive officer of Symphony Lotus, the company hopes to sell 200 cars in China this year, and plans to expand its dealership network to eight locations by next year.

MINI Launches Second Annual “Chinese Job” Driving Competition

Running for its second year, MINI’s “Chinese Job” driving competition will take place in 36 cities throughout China over the course of the next four months. Taking place at MINI dealerships, the event pits competitors against one of three driving challenges through the end of August, with regional finalists squaring off between September 10-October 10. The national finals, which will take place on October 23, will see drivers compete for a Mini Cooper S, Mini Cooper S Clubman, or Mini Cooper S Countryman.

Aspiring “Italian Job” re-enactors can register for the event for free online through the MINI Chinese Job mini-site, by calling 400-800-6699 or their local MINI dealership, or by texting “MINI Chinese Mission + [their name]” (MINI中国任务+你的姓名) to 12114.


The Chinese Job 2011

The Chinese Job 2011

Limited Edition Steinway & Sons BMW 7 Series Debuts In China

BMW launch event

BMW launch event

Unveiled at an event in Germany last fall and spotted briefly in April in Hainan province, the BMW Individual 7 Series Steinway & Sons edition recently had its official launch in China, one of BMW’s most important single markets. A partnership between BMW and the renowned American piano maker Steinway & Sons, the series features hand-crafted accents and unique details such as embroidered headrests and a gold-colored coachline running the full length of the vehicle. The painstaking work that goes into these limited-edition vehicles means only two can be produced per week, according to BMW, a fact that should further endear the model to China’s personalization-loving wealthy auto buyers.

China is currently the BMW Group’s third-largest single market, and the largest market for its 7 Series. At the launch event this week, BMW China president Xu Zhijun said that although the Steinway & Sons edition 7 Series is rare, the company “will try to meet the needs of Chinese customers.” Speaking about his company’s partnership with BMW, Steinway & Sons (Shanghai) Vice President Werner Husmann said, “Steinway & Sons has much in common with BMW. Both are top brands with a long history, an innovative spirit and high quality, and both have made remarkable achievements in their respective fields. The friendship and cooperation between Steinway & Sons and BMW has created a masterpiece.”