April 25, 2012
Francois Bancon, Nissan’s upstream planning division general manager, takes the Global Media Center on a walkabout at Beijing, the world’s largest auto show, highlighting cars from Infiniti, Renault, Geely, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and BYD.
First, in the context of what the Chinese market is, this is not anymore a country developing. This is a mature market. And this Beijing 2012 show is a mature show.
Now, what makes Beijing different from the other shows is that there is no selection here. Everyone is here. You can see the best; you can see the worst. You never know where you are. But in terms of quantity, at least, it’s probably the No. 1 show on the planet – quantity.
Qualitatively, of course you have the big brands, starting with Nissan, Infiniti, Mercedes, BMW. And then you have the local brands. So you have kind of two worlds here: the entry-price world, which is a lot about quantity. They want to do everything and have everything in the lineup. And then on the other side, the more expensive – if not to say premium – brands, you tend to have some creativity here. A lot of premium brands are launching new things here in Beijing and this is new.
Geely, the third [largest] local brand in China. At 430,000 units a year is significant in this market. What is new is that they used to make sedans – small, medium, big – and it was their bread-and-butter at a low price. They are now shifting to the crossover, with a kind of Qashqai inspiration regarding the size – although it is a lot cheaper [than the Qashqai], of course. It’s well done. The design might not be as modern as an imported brand – and probably the quality is a lot lower – which is the main challenge they have in this category.
This is the Renault Talisman. This car is based on the [Renault Samsung] SM7 made in South Korea. This is redesigned for Renault, and it is a kind of push regarding what might be the first Renault product in this country.
This is kind of a strange thing. This is a G-Class, and the G used to be the authentic SUV with a strong luxury positioning in the Middle East and Europe. They are localizing this with a slightly different design execution while keeping the roughness, the toughness – I should say a primitive execution of what a SUV could be at Mercedes.
This an interesting project, the so-called Style Coupe – a four-door, coupe-ish style execution in a C-segment size. This car is built on a MFA platform, which is a platform we share with Mercedes for Infiniti. I should say it’s a remarkable execution in terms of dynamism and modernity.
Yesterday, in a press conference Mercedes announced the production car is going to be almost like this.
This is a 3 Series like it exists all over the world, but this is only for China and made in China. The only difference with the 3 Series is that the wheelbase is longer, which is a sign. Audi is doing this; we are doing this – in the Infiniti we will show later. So the challenge is: can we keep the dynamic and aggressive proportion of the 3 Series with a long wheelbase. The answer is yes – it works. It looks even better than a normal one.
And the USP – the unique selling point – is this: you can seat your grandmother, grandfather, all your family because you have room in the back, which is a very specific Chinese requirement. My formula for this is: give me more for the same price.
This is the Infiniti M Series, this is a hybrid version. What is special is that we make the car longer – the wheelbase is longer for this impressive, limousine roominess. This is a major requirement in China.
In the Chinese premium market, one of the number one requirements is space. “Give me more, comfort and a cozy atmosphere.” Especially as a second car because of guests. They use their cars a lot for business, so they have to move their own guests – it’s an important requirement. It’s what BMW did with the 3 Series and it is what we’re doing with the M Series.
BYD is the second largest local Chinese brand. BYD started as a battery company, providing batteries for mobile phones, etc., and now they’re automotive. The main structure of the lineup is based on sedans, entry-price sedans – small or big, but entry-price.
The trend in China now is a little like what happened in the U.S. ten years ago. All the categories are shifting to crossover, so they are proposing this car, which is about the same size as our Qashqai but a lot cheaper and with a lower level of quality. But [this transition] is a good indication.
On top of this, regarding BYD, they’ve just signed a kind of contract with Daimler to make an EV brand for China called Denza. And they are going to sell and EV car made with Daimler.