What Foreign Cars Are Selling in China?

Morgan assembly line

While BMW and Audi are battling it out for the top spot in luxo-car sales in China, there are many players in the game. And though carmakers like Cadillac are trying to get in on the action, a quirky English company named Morgan takes a different (as always) approach.

It has gotten inquiries from 20 potential Chinese dealers this year to sell its M3W (above, $39,000), a hand-built car, powered by a 2-liter Harley Davidson motorcycle engine that zaps it to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. This is not a dumb idea. Morgan sells few cars, yet has managed to exist for nearly 100 years. If it sells 50 M3Ws in China next year, it will meet its goal.

Lotus is getting into the act, too, selling out its Asian allotment of new Evora GTEs as 115 customers put down deposits. Lotus has opened a dealership in Beijing, and 13 more are planned by 2012’s end. Alfa Romeo also wants to get into the game, but its prospects aren’t good.

China is a country in which uniqueness sells, and so do luxury cars—the market is projected to climb 39 percent this year. Although the U.S. still leads in luxury sales, the markets here and in Germany and Europe generally are in decline as deep economic uncertainty makes buyers reluctant and skittish.

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