Hi guys, happy week to all…
This week, we got back on the incredulity wagon at the Changchun Annual Car Show. The International Auto Exhibition, to give it it’s proper title, is known to the western visitors as a bit of a chuckle, so we expected a bit of a belter!!
Changchun is often nicknamed the ‘car city’ because of it’s vast amount of cars and particularly the seas of foreign car plants based in the city for manufacture. It’s worth pointing out that it has been called ‘China’s capital of culture’ and the ‘City of Green Spaces’, both of which I have seen no evidence for, so please take my word for it when I call it the car city!!
On entering the show, there was nothing to say this was any different from any other car show throughout the world, but thankfully the cracks opened up as we strolled through the 9 vast halls. Each hall presented a different type/ style or company which ranged from the cutting-edge concepts to the bizarre brainfarts. At one point we climbed aboard a military-type vehicle which, it turned out, was available to hire for the week along with driver and (surreally) a gazebo and camping chairs… I don’t know what is less likely: going on an invasion-themed holiday or stopping for afternoon tea during an offensive. Either way, something was out of place…
The star of the show, to us, were the rip offs which we had be warned about before going. There have been some high-profile legal battles between established foreign companies in China and the new start-up car companies in China over intellectual ownership. This ranges from infringing upon design on the font of the SatNav, lest it look like a copy, to a full blown copy with seemingly just a badge changed. Points for those who guess which we saw….? Points all around I guess then.
Please don’t look at the badges and assume I’m a buffoon. The ones on the left and centre are a BMW Minis and the other is a by Chinese company called LiFan. It is that obvious. As if not to cheat you, look at the characters on the number plate on the blue car and then the company’s name…. Beautiful copy though, right??
Although these were few and far between, there is some serious resentment from other companies who feel completely aggrieved that their hard work is being stolen. The counter argument has been on at least one occasion ‘Look, the wheel arches are different, how is it the same?’ There were some more obvious signs that some things were amiss after looking at some Mercedes…
The rest of the day was fairly without incident apart from some more blunders from yours truly in Chinese. This is beginning to get too much of a feature for my liking really. We were talking to some lovely sales girls, who became convinced that because we were western we must have a lot of money and thus were looking for a car… As part of their pitch they we asking a little about us and how long we had been in China etc. After not really understanding some questions, I decided to leap at one which I understood. I grabbed my chance to impress…. “锅包肉” (guobaorou), I blurted out, recalling my favourite 东北 (northeast) food. They looked confused then laughed. A lot.
Turns out that the question had been
你最喜欢的车是什么？(Ni zui xi huan de CHE shi shenme?) ‘What is your favourite car?’
你最喜欢吃什么呢？ (Ni zui xi huan CHI shen me ne?) ‘What do you most like to eat?’
This, to my untrained ear was the same, and caused quite a bit of amusement considering my answer… I was later sent a picture by friends showing the difference.
So, a good time had by all…. Have a little look at the rest. No idea what the pink car was all about!!!
I’ll leave the final word with a Coke Gazebo, which thought it was appropriate to insult me…..
Have a great week everyone!!!