The SUV mar­ket is grow­ing at a fast pace and peo­ple have big as­pi­ra­tions for that. This is an area in which we want to be uniquely po­si­tioned.”

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Holiday -

“Big­ger is bet­ter,” said Xu Jun­yang, a se­cu­ri­ties an­a­lyst in Beijing, when asked what kind of ve­hi­cle he was look­ing for at a deal­er­ship.

As his wife will soon give birth to their sec­ond child, the 39-year-old has de­cided to re­place his four-year old fiveseat Buick Lacrosse with a larger ve­hi­cle.

“Cars with plenty of room are the pri­or­ity, those that can carry at least three adults, two safety chairs, two baby car­riages and a lot more,” Xu said.

He is not alone. China’s in­tro­duc­tion of the sec­ond­child pol­icy at the be­gin­ning of 2016 has spurred a huge de­mand for big­ger ve­hi­cles among young cou­ples.

There were more than 17 mil­lion new­born ba­bies last year, of which more than half were sec­ond chil­dren, soar­ing by 11 per­cent com­pared with the pre­vi­ous year, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Bu­reau of Sta­tis­tics.

“Even if we don’t have a sec­ond child now, buy­ing a big SUV is the long-term plan,” said Lin Li, a 26-year-old col­lege grad­u­ate in Beijing.

Lin bought a Toy­ota High­lander this year as her bud­get ex­cluded the pos­si­bil­ity of buy­ing a sec­ond car in the com­ing four or five years.

“Why not con­sider big­ger ones at the out­set?” Lin said, adding that she might have two chil­dren in the fu­ture.

Lin said a big­ger car had al­ways been her first choice as her fam­ily will have at least seven mem­bers, in­clud­ing her par­ents and par­ents-in-law.

“For younger buy­ers, big­ger cars have also be­come a pop­u­lar choice be­cause they look more cool and driv­ing them brings a feel­ing of ad­ven­ture,” she said.

Some peo­ple who have two chil­dren and old par­ents are shift­ing to­ward MPVs, with Volk­swa­gen’s Sha­ran and Honda’s Odyssey be­ing pop­u­lar choices.

Cao Jian, an IT spe­cial­ist in Beijing, traded up his Volk­swa­gen Sag­i­tar sedan for a seven-seat Odyssey in June.

“I wanted a big SUV, but the com­fort and roomi­ness of MPVs fi­nally gained the up­per hand,” said Cao, whose par­ents are over 70 years old.

He said MPV bod­ies are lower and thus more suit­able for older pas­sen­gers and their seats are more com­fort­able than those of SUVs.

“What im­pressed my wife and me is that the Odyssey’s seats in the sec­ond row can be laid flat and you can sleep on them, which is great for both kids and par­ents,” Cao said.

He said the de­ci­sion came after he test-drove big SUVs in­clud­ing the Toy­ota High­lander and Peu­geot 5008, but their seats were not com­fort­able enough, and the Volk­swa­gen Ter­a­mont was too big for him.

“We don’t need great per­for­mance or clear­ance abil­ity; what we need is space and com­fort,” he added.

How­ever, for those who en­joy self-driv­ing tours, big SUVs such as the Ter­a­mont or Toy­ota Prado are pop­u­lar.

Wang Lina, a 35-year old busi­ness­woman who is plan­ning a trip to the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion dur­ing the Na­tional Day hol­i­day, said big SUVs are a “nat­u­ral choice” for her.

“You are not wor­ried even if some road sec­tions are poorly sur­faced, be­cause SUVs can han­dle such con­di­tions,” said Wang, who of­ten takes her fam­ily to sub­ur­ban ar­eas for fun.

“Be­sides, there is more legroom in SUVs, so you are less tired than in a sedan if you travel long dis­tances. And I’m told big­ger cars are safer if there is an ac­ci­dent,” she said.

Sta­tis­tics from the China Tourism Academy showed that Chi­nese peo­ple made 223 mil­lion self-driv­ing trips in the first half of 2017, with the av­er­age dis­tance stand­ing at 142.8 kilo­me­ters. Of the driv­ers, more than 80 per­cent were aged be­tween 31 and 35.

The academy said these peo­ple are mainly mid­dle and high-in­come earn­ers and they are more in­ter­ested in the travel ex­pe­ri­ence than their des­ti­na­tions.

These trends have driven up sales of SUVs in the past few years. Last year, more than 10 mil­lion SUVs were sold, up 13.32 per­cent year-on-year, ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics from the China As­so­ci­a­tion of Au­to­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers.

In the first half of this year, the SUV sec­tor was also the fastest grow­ing in the Chi­nese auto mar­ket, with sales soar­ing nearly 6.3 per­cent year-on-year to 4.69 mil­lion ve­hi­cles.

Even though the growth rate has slowed in the past few months, ma­jor car­mak­ers are still ramp­ing up ef­forts to de­velop SUV mod­els, sens­ing de­mand from peo­ple who need to drive on var­i­ous road con­di­tions across the coun­try.

Beijing Au­to­mo­tive Group Co Ltd, one of China’s top five au­tomak­ers by sales rev­enue, for ex­am­ple, said it is in­vest­ing more re­sources to de­velop its SUV busi­ness.

“The SUV mar­ket is grow­ing at a fast pace and peo­ple have big as­pi­ra­tions for that. This is an area in which we want to be uniquely po­si­tioned,” said Xu Heyi, chair­man of BAIC Group.

“We will fo­cus on im­prov­ing off-road ve­hi­cle of­fer­ings be­cause con­sumers to­day have higher de­mands for their SUVs’ func­tion­al­ity,” Xu said.

Wang Zilin is one of them. Wang and his wife work in Qing­dao in East China’s Shan­dong prov­ince, but they travel to their home­town in the ru­ral area of Linyi in the same prov­ince two times a month.

Wang said there are rugged road sec­tions dur­ing the three-hour drive.

“It is more com­fort­able to drive a big SUV as it can han­dle those un­even roads bet­ter,” he said, adding that the seats on SUVs are higher, al­low­ing driv­ers to see the road more clearly, which guar­an­tees bet­ter views and travel safety.

Con­tact the writ­ers at chengyu @chi­nadaily.com.cn

PEI QIANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

An SUV takes part in an in­ter­na­tional rac­ing event in Zhangye, North­west China’s Gansu prov­ince, on July 21.Xu Heyi,

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