Sports Car Maker To Target Second And Third Tier Cities Next Year
Following ultra-luxury automakers Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Bugatti and Bentley into the China market, on November 2 Britain’s Lotus Cars Limited will make its China debut with a new showroom on Beijing’s Gongti Bei Lu. Located by bustling Sanlitun in the city’s Chaoyang district, the two-story showroom will initially stock three models, the Evora, Elise and Exige. According to a company release, Lotus China has placed an initial order of 100 cars, with the flagship Evora accounting for most of the first order.
First announced this past June, the inauguration of China’s first Lotus showroom will be attended by Lotus global CEO Dany Bahar, along with Lotus China president and CEO, Zhang Lichen. At the grand opening on November 2, Lotus will use the occasion to release a new model, the GTE Road Car — an updated version of the Lotus GTE. Additionally, Lotus plans to show its T125 F1 car in China for the first time at the event, indicating the brand is looking to make a splash on its first day in the country. In preparation for the big day, last month Lotus debuted its new L5 Sportback — produced in partnership with the Malaysian manufacturer Proton and Lotus’ Chinese partner Youngman — by the riverside in Shanghai’s Huangpu District.
As the company noted in a release this summer, Lotus China will operate under the transliterated name “Lutesi” (路特斯), and each Lotus sold in China will include a specially designed badge that includes the letters “NYO.” (Which, the company clarifies, is “pronounced like the word ‘new’ and symbolises the importance of [its] official entry into China.”)
As Lotus China CEO Zhang Lichen has previously hinted, after the launch of its Beijing showroom, Lotus China plans to open four dealer showrooms in the months ahead in Shanghai and Guangzhou, with further plans to open 10 more locations next year in second- and third-tier cities throughout China. According to Zhang, with expansion will come a more diverse product mix. “We are investing in new dealerships throughout China to not only introduce the Evora, Elise and Exige,” Zhang recently said, “but also in preparation for the arrival of the new Lotus super cars starting with the Esprit in 2013.”
Interestingly enough, it may be in the cities outside of Beijing and Shanghai that Lotus could have its greatest success in the crowded China luxury auto market. As China Car Times wrote today, “Forget the shiny stereotype that middle to upper middle class city slickers are buying premium brands, the real buyers are in second tier cities such as Wenzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan, Guangzhou and beyond, where there is industry there are bosses buying cars to boost their image.”