I am impressed with the cars in China. Before moving here, I expected to see a lot of tiny, Smart-Car-esque vehicles. So many cars, so little space – that was my impression. When we arrived, I was a bit shocked at the full-size sedans, but especially shocked at the quality. Mercedes, BMW, Volvo, Audi, Porsche and more. There are so many black Audis with tinted windows that I expect the Transporter to step out of one someday. (Expect, or hope?) And it is a beautiful surprise, though no longer out of the ordinary, to see a Bentley in front of the hotel across the street. The doormen laugh seeing this foreigner pull out her camera when a Carrera or Rolls are parked in the drive. The first time I saw a Lincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade, it was a “what the hell!?” moment. And the Lamborghini in front of the Ritz last week in Shanghai – there were no words. Rest assured, I wasn’t the only one checking it out.
I don’t mean to leave out the usual suspects. There are plenty of Honda, Toyota, VW, Nissan level of vehicle too. Then add in the Jin Bei’s and other Chinese and Korean marks that, as Americans, we don’t recognize. Since status is so important in China, most of these gorgeous cars are new. It has been said that a Chinese person will save up in order to walk in and pay cash for their new vehicle. Yeah, how many yuan for that X5?
Don’t get me wrong – you can still tell that you’re in a foreign country. Delivery trucks and vans have that cute boxy shape. Deliveries are also made by pedal or electric bicycle carts. Taxis, bicycles and mopeds are everywhere. City buses too, and the subway is coming in another year or so. Sometimes you can even see district taxis that look like Thai tuk-tuks. And though, unfortunately, I have no photographic evidence at this time, it is no longer a surprise to see a donkey pulling a cart on a main road.
With this blog subject, I expect you might have questions about vehicle, gas and maintenance costs. Actually, I have no idea. You can Google it as well as I can. According to a July article, it lists Beijing at $3.71 a gallon, so it is probably a little less here. I could go on and on, comparing GDP per capita ($6000 vs US $46,000) and average incomes; I don’t mean to start anything.
I just want to show you these fabulous cars!