Mainland buyers have traditionally equated luxury with German nameplates. Volkswagen-owned Audi is China’s top luxury brand, with 30 percent of the high-end market in 2015; BMW is No. 2, with 25 percent; and Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz line is third, with 20 percent.
Cadillac is far behind, tied with Chinese automaker Geely Automobile Holdings’ Volvo at No. 6—they each commanded 4 percent of the market last year, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. Lincoln had less than 1 percent. “There really is a solid association in Chinese consumers’ minds with the premium German brands,” says James Roy, associate principal of China Market Research Group. “American cars are viewed as fine and good and functional, but they don’t have that premium image.”…
President Xi Jinping’s campaign against corruption and conspicuous consumption among officials may also provide an opening for U.S. cars. “Consumers are trading down,” says Roy of China Market Research Group. “People are not looking to be as obvious or flashy with their wealth as before.”
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