By Hong Soon-do, Beijing correspondent, AsiaToday - China, which has been called a cyclists' paradise for a long time, is rapidly transforming into an automobile kingdom. As a result, automobiles have become the central issue for most of the lives of Chinese people. We could now say that automobiles cannot be separated from Chinese people.
[China is becoming an automobile kingdom. Automobiles cannot be separated from the daily life of most of Chinese people now. This reality can be seen from the fact that a car was presented as a prize at an event of Baoding in Hebei province./ Source: China Automotive News]
This is automatically assumed if we look at the current Chinese automobile market. According to the Dec. 14th report of the Reference News (PRC limited-distribution daily newspaper), nearly 23 million vehicles were sold in China last year, up 7% compared with the previous year. However, China is seeing dramatic rise in car sales this year although its overall economy is hardly better than last year. Nearly 24.94 million vehicles were sold in the first 11 months, an increase of 14.1% over the same period last year. Retail auto sales in China surged 20% to 2.42 million units in November. Sales of total motor vehicles is expected to rise 26 million units this year. It seems the figure is hard to catch up for the U.S., which has been falling behind China in terms of sales volume since 2009.
China is surely enough to earn the title "automobile kingdom" in terms of the number of vehicles on its roads. By the end of this year, it is certain that China will have nearly 200 million vehicles. It is still less than the US but much more than ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations). With a conservative assumption that China will see an increase of 25 million units on average per year, it is highly likely that China will either overtake or follow closely behind the U.S. by 2021. As a result, there are staggering number of car brands and models available in China. The world-renowned motor shows are held in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Yet, it is hard to say that China is a car paradise due to poor local brands and bad traffic manners. Car dealer Li Jinsheng said, "China is the world's biggest automobile kingdom in terms of its volume. But its cultural level falls far behind." It seems that China has a long way to go to become an automobile paradise.