Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Roewe 350

A friend in Beijing just bought a car. I've never heard of the Roewe (荣威) brand before; it appears to be a subsidiary of SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp) that was purchased from MG Rover in the UK. The model she bought is the Roewe 350 which is a small 4-door sedan. I didn't ask how much she paid for it but the website shows a MSRP of RMB90k-RMB125k (~US$13200-US$18400).

1.5L engine (80kW or ~107hp)
2650mm wheelbase
MSRP for middle model with automatic transmission ~US$17000

Compared to a Honda Civic LX
1.8L engine (140hp)
2700mm wheelbase
MSRP for automatic transmission ~US$18000

Compared to a Toyota Corolla LE
1.8L engine (132hp)
2600mm wheelbase
MSRP for automatic transmission ~US$17000

The Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are probably the best selling small sedans in North America (world?) and both have excellent quality and reputation. Ignoring any quality issues with Chinese-made cars, the Roewe 350 is priced in the same ballpark as the two Japanese cars which means it's super expensive for the average Chinese car buyer. If you compare the relative cost of living vs. wages in China, everything is somewhat comparable with the US (i.e., housing and food) except for cars and other large ticket consumer product.

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