The Audi A6: wheels de choix of Chinese bureaucrats everywhere

Buick being big in China we’ve heard about, but the Audi A6? Whodathunk? At least these bureaucrats can’t be faulted for poor taste— the latest A6 is a fine-looking mid-size sedan.

Some fascinating nuggets from a recent NYT article:

  • No vehicle in China has developed as ironclad a reputation as the Audi A6, the semiofficial choice of Chinese bureaucrats. From the country’s southern reaches to its northern capital, the A6’s slick frame and invariably tinted windows exude an aura of state privilege, authority and, to many ordinary citizens, a whiff of corruption
  • Audi’s party technocrat associations are a result partly of the car’s early market entry and its longstanding place on the government’s coveted purchasing list. Audi, the German automaker, gained access to the Chinese market in 1988 when its owner, Volkswagen, struck a joint venture with Yiqi, a Chinese carmaker. By contrast, BMW’s first domestic factory opened in 2003, giving Audi 15 years to establish itself as the premier vehicle for China’s elite
  • This early advantage has helped Audi to dominate China’s lucrative government-car market, with 20 percent of its China revenue in 2009 drawn directly from government sales. Each year, the Procurement Center of the Central People’s Government releases a list of the cars and models acceptable for government purchase
  • The Munich-based automaker BMW, on the other hand, has found itself in a contrary position. Since entering the Chinese market, BMW has acquired a reputation as a vehicle for the arrogant and the rash, making it largely off-limits to wealthy officials who prefer a low-key public image
  • On Sina Weibo, the country’s most popular microblogging service, a recent posting tried to sum up the car clichés. “A gathering of Mercedes indicates a get-together for old folks,” the writer said. “A group of BMWs means young nouveaux riches are about to run someone over and have a party; several Audis, and you know it’s a government meeting” (source)

~ by velofinds on November 17, 2011.

3 Responses to “The Audi A6: wheels de choix of Chinese bureaucrats everywhere”

  1. My distant cousin in China is actually an honest bureaucrat. So we got to ride in his very proletarian VW Santana 2000.

    I remember witnessing a black A6 run over a lady on a bike. The driver walks up to the victim, yells at her and blames her for the crash, and tells her she’s fine.

  2. Here is my Chinese A6 story:
    I lived in Shanghai for 6 months as a contract designer at an industrial design consultancy. About 5 months in, my father and then-girlfriend came to visit me and we took a trip to Beijing. We stayed at a hotel that had 3 options for “Great Wall Tours”; tourist bus, taxi and limo. The bus was the cheapest but only by about 15 rmb per person and we were told that the bus stops at a tourist trap shop for an hour both ways, so we opted for the next cheapest option, the limo. The morning of the trip, we went outside to see what we were going to be taking on our ride and we see a line of at least 12 2008 Audi A6L’s. They direct us to the first one and we were off. For the price of entry we got the Audi all day long, so we also got to see the Olympic Village, the Beijing Zoo and the Forbidden City/Tiananmen Square/Mao’s Tomb for free (well, the cost to get to those places was free anyway). I got to sit in the back the whole time and the A6L offers a ridiculous amount of space (more than my Shanghainese apartment). I have a friend in America that drives a regular wheel base A6 and the “L” designation on our limo made it feel like a Maybach compared to the American “civilian A6”. It was the one part of my Chinese existance that felt decadent.
    So that’s my Chinese A6 story.

  3. awesome! thanks for sharing, guys.

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