Monday, April 4, 2011

BMW follows the money

If you don't think the world has changed, consider this.

BMW will unveil the new M5 concept in a few weeks not in Geneva, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo or any of the other traditional auto shows. According to, the M5 will make its public debut at the Shanghai Auto Show later this month.

I shouldn't be surprised. With huge piles of disposable income, China is fast becoming the most important market on the global automotive landscape.

BMW has already established its place in the West as the leading performance luxury brand (although Audi coming up fast). BMW M enthusiasts in Europe and the US know what the M means in terms of performance, handling and exclusivity, and will line up accordingly.

In China, however, BMW is still fighting to establish its image and credentials. Using the Shanghai show as a platform to launch the concept globally demonstrates an elevated level of commitment to a market that swallowed more than 500,000 luxury cars last year. 

That's is pretty incredible when you consider there were fewer than one million privately-owned cars on Chinese roads just 15 years ago.

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