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."

lsl-dd/dma/ft/pdw

 

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior .Net Programmer

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Bridgend based software de...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Printer

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A specialist retail and brand c...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Designer

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 2 HGV Driver - with CPC

    £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Haulage company based on the Thorpe Indu...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence