I attended press days at Auto China in Beijing last week. As usual, it was a huge, loud, crowded show. One striking difference from the first few Auto China shows I attended – which were more than a decade ago – was the sophistication of the China-produced models in both design and technology.
The models, whether from a Chinese automaker or a foreign automaker producing in China, would fit in at an auto show in any country. When Chinese automakers start to sell in the U.S. – and one, Guangzhou Auto, has taken first steps to doing that – they will be ready design-wise.
Where they might actually be ahead of their competitors here in the U.S. is in connectivity. The international executives I spoke with in China said Chinese consumers are more demanding than U.S. consumers where a car’s connectivity is concerned. Multinational suppliers are developing products to facilitate connectivity, and Chinese firms are developing connected car products and capabilities. Technology and engineering skills used to flow from the West to China. In this area, the direction will be reversed, it seems.
One thing that is evolving fast in both countries is automotive retail. China may move more quickly to doing the entire purchase online, but the U.S. has plenty of interesting activity in the digital space, too. This week I write about my conversation with one of those retail innovators, CarSaver. It aims to leverage the power of the internet and its connection with Walmart to drive more business to dealers. Read about it in this issue.
Also this week, Herschel Gornbein of M&T Bank returns to our pages with a column on measures to help maximize your business value, whether to ready it for sale or so future generations can continue to operate it well.
While in Beijing I received news of a grievous loss to this publication, the auto industry, and his family and friends. Ira Silver, an early contributor, cheerleader, and supporter of ABSR, passed away recently. Ira was a gentleman in all ways and he will be sorely missed. In this issue we have a tribute to Ira.
And there’s Transaction News, of course.