In China, success is a black Audi A6

The world's newest cars are on display at the Shanghai auto show, but Xu Xingen came for a classic that is perhaps equated with success and power in China more than any other - the Audi A6.

Half of the Audi A6s in the world are sold in China, according to research firm Dunne & Co., where black versions with windows tinted darker than welding glass are the car of choice for government officials and company bosses.

"Many Chinese people like the Audi car a lot," Xu said, after testing the back seat, where the 50-year-old entrepreneur plans to ride most of the time. "It looks very beautiful, magnificent. I am going to buy a black one."

Boosted by A6 sales, Audi posted a record first quarter in China with sales up 18.2 percent and 51,951 cars sold. CEO Rupert Stadler said at the Shanghai auto show that China was set to become Audi's largest market this year.

"In China, Audi is considered to be officials' favourite car," another 50-something Chinese executive said after his office manager snapped a photo of him behind the wheel of the A6.

"The streamlining, the design, the space are all very good so Chinese officials started to drive this car very early. I am going to buy one," he said. He declined to give his name, but said he was "from a Fortune 500 company".

The Audi stand's A6 was silver, but he said that would not do: "Black looks more mature and sedate. Usually officials all drive black cars."

The car's status is such that in Beijing, the importance of government meetings can sometimes be gauged by counting how many A6s are parked outside.

Whistleblower Lu Jianfu, who has gained a following on China's Internet by using his video camera to catch government officials abusing their authority, credits a black Audi with launching a hobby that has led to at least 10 officials being fired or punished.

In 2007, Lu saw an Audi sporting a flashing police light, driving against traffic on a one-way street. When police told the driver to back up, he said the car "didn't have a reverse gear", Lu told the China Daily.

Lu shot a video of the scene and posted it online. The Audi driver, an official for the central city of Zhengzhou, was sacked as a result.

A newspaper reporter in the northern city of Xian borrowed an Audi A6 last year to test theories circulating on the Internet that by just sitting in an A6, women would spontaneously ask you for rides.

His conclusion: the claims were a myth.

The A6's status comes down to Audi being one of the first premium manufacturers to enter China, said Klaus Paur, head of Synovate Motoresearch for Greater China and Korea.

Initially, it was a popular government car, but then entrepreneurs started buying them too.

"A lot of people bought these A6s simply because it was, socially speaking, acceptable," Paur said. "People would not say 'you are showing off' because it was also endorsed by the government."

But Audi A6s run the risk of becoming too common in China and losing their luxury status, compared to rival brands like BMW, Paur said. As a result, the company is trying to promote cars like its new Q3 compact sports utility vehicle.

Audi's CEO is confident the brand can become even more ubiquitous.

"It took us 23 years to sell our first million vehicles in China," Stadler said. "We aim to deliver our second million customers in just three years."



Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
i100... and no one notices
Arts and Entertainment
Friends reunited: Julian Ovenden, Richard Cant and Matt Bardock in rehearsals for the Donmar revival of 'My Night
with Reg'
theatrePoignancy of Kevin Elyot's play being revived just after his death
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Training Programme Manager (Learning and Development)-London

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...

    Training/Learning and Development Coordinator -London

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Training/Learning and Development Co...

    Year 5/6 Teacher

    £100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The successful applicant w...

    Year 5/6 Teacher

    £21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobThe successful ...

    Day In a Page

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor