Mercedes-Benz And BMW Announce New Elongated Models For China Market

2011 BMW 5-Series L And Mercedes E-Class To Cater To Business Crowd

Longer wheelbase + Forbidden City in advertisements = likely success in China

Longer wheelbase + Forbidden City in advertisements = likely success in China

Chinese car buyers have found that one of the perks of their country surpassing the United States to become the world’s largest auto market is that automakers finally pay attention to the design cues they want the most. As Jing Daily wrote in January, automakers like Buick, Volvo, and Audi have already released special models for the Chinese market that offer longer wheelbases, catering to the preference of many Chinese businesspeople to hire a chauffeur and stretch out in the back seat rather than drive themselves. As we wrote at that time,

[For automakers in China], localized design can be the key to expanding market appeal. While most of the world’s top automakers are developing smaller, more efficient models for developed markets, in China the old adage “bigger is better” has become a mantra for wealthier car buyers.

This month, the German luxury giants BMW and Mercedes-Benz announced that they too will begin offering longer models of their respective 5-Series and E-Class sedans. According to BenzInsider, the elongated, China-only Mercedes E-Class is designed to directly compete with Audi’s popular A4 and A6, although it would seem that Mercedes is really looking to appeal to China’s infamous A8-driven crowd with this sedan. From BenzInsider:

Apparently, China’s wealthy have a thing for stretched-out luxury sedans. The likes of Buick, Volvo and Audi have all put out localized versions of their more popular sedans as an address to demands in the Chinese market. That’s why Mercedes-Benz has decided to throw in its executive-sized sedan and make China an offer its elite can’t refuse.

Boasting a longer wheelbase, the E300L is nowhere near being as flashy nor as long as the limos ferrying celebrities around in Hollywood. Oh no. But it sure is long enough to get you some well-deserved attention, especially in China’s congested streets.

BMW, perhaps trying to jettison its (somewhat undeserved) reputation as a car for China’s flashy nouveau riche, recently unveiled its 2011 5-Series “L,” which sports a longer wheelbase along with host of features that are sure to go down well with China’s urban business elite. From Automobile Magazine:

In order to create the 5-Series L, BMW stretched the 5-Series wheelbase 5.5 inches, giving the car a wheelbase of 122 inches — longer than a standard 7-Series by 1 inch. The added length in the wheelbase goes exclusively to the rear seat passengers, giving them as much room as would be had in a standard 7-Series.

With such space in the rear, BMW offers items normally seen on the 7-Series such as a cool-box, power folding sunshades, and folding tables integrated into the front-seat backrests. Luxury items also seen on standard 5-Seres are also available including rear-seat entertainment and four-zone air-conditioning.

The 5-Series Long Wheelbase was developed exclusively for the Chinese market and will go into production at BMW’s plant in Shengyang, China, later this year.

It’s interesting to watch global companies like BMW and Mercedes-Benz, who only a few short years ago could sell any model they pleased in the China market having to make an earnest effort to maintain buyer loyalty and appeal to increasingly picky, increasingly vocal, Chinese buyers. We should expect to see more of this, not only in the auto world, but in fashion, jewelry, and entertainment as well, especially as China closes in on becoming the world’s #1 luxury market.


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