China’s auto industry wastes no time coaxing drivers back to showrooms after lockdown

China’s auto industry has gone from zero to sixty in its post-pandemic campaign drive, with manufacturers and dealers quick to woo back lockdown-weary consumers through campaigns as unusual as a makeup-promoting personality touting car leasing.

ocial media celebrity Lipstick King urged millions of fans on a live-streamed shopping show to sign up to a lease deal for General Motors Co’s (GM.N) Cadillac CT4 compact sedan.

“This color has the sense of ‘I’m in charge’ independence,” he said, displaying a scale model of a chocolate-colored car.

The plug is just one part of an eruption of promotional campaigns featuring steep discounts, cold-calling and gimmicks, from an industry obliterated by government restrictions on movement imposed in January to curb the spread of a virus which in China has infected 81,000 people and caused 3,300 deaths.

The economy shrank 21% in January-February with sales in the world’s biggest vehicle market last month plunging 79%. Retail sales of passenger cars dropped 45% in the first three weeks of March, and the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers does not expect demand to normalize until the third quarter.

With authorities gradually easing restrictions, automakers and dealers have started the engines on their promotional machinery to undo what consulting firm IHS Markit described as an “unprecedented and almost instant stalling of demand”.

U.S. electric vehicle (EV) maker Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) has launched test-drive and delivery services involving no staff contact, while Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd is delivering disinfected cars and dropping off keys with drones.

The EV unit of Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd (601238.SS) is even testing a system to perfume its Aion LX SUV with the aroma of traditional Chinese medicine. (Source: Reuters)

Leave a Reply