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Ferrari's troubles in China
May 10, 2012 1:20 PM   Subscribe

In March, a young, male driver crashed a Ferrari in snowy conditions, killing himself and wounding the two female passengers. The Beijing Evening News posted a short story, complete with a picture of the wrecked car, but deleted it a short time later. A new story was put up a short time later, apparently without the picture of the wrecked car, but terms related to the crash were blocked from the micro-blogging site Sina Weibo (blocking on Weibo, previously). The news of the crash, and the subsequent (partial) cover-up were further marks against the Rich2G, the second generation of China’s moneyed class. More recently, Ferrari held an event to celebrate twenty years of the luxury car maker in China, spending $12,670 to rent a section (and drive a special edition "Marco Polo Red" 458 Italia) on top of the City Wall of Nanjing. The driver was caught on film driving tight circles on the ancient wall, leaving tire marks and further souring the public against Ferrari in specific, and the wealthy at large.

Ferrari claimed the drive was taken unauthorized by local staff, and Ferrari expressed "deep regret" for what it described as an "accident," calling it "unacceptable" and saying it would take steps to prevent similar incidents from happening again. The district tourism bureau said its officials had been reprimanded, and other officials said the use of the site was not approved by archeological authorities.
posted by filthy light thief (52 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think, in the West, of course, there's plenty of corruption, but if someone's driving a Ferrari, you tend to think, oh, you know, well done, mate. You made a lot of money and you've been successful, and it's not quite as simple as that in China.

I guess it really depends on what kind of circles you frequent. My first reaction is to say that he's misreading North America's political climate right now. But on second thought, it might be fair: as turbulent as North America is, I don't think that it even touches the gap between the rich and the poor in China.

When the vast majority of the population is living in agrarian poverty reminiscent of conditions during feudalism, there probably is still some touchiness about newly wealthy gloating and rubbing it in while defiling cultural artifacts.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:30 PM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Probably worth remembering as well that (perhaps counter intuitively) the gap between the rich and the poor is growing there, not shrinking. All the excitement about a rising middle class and a whole bunch of new millionaires really needs to sit in that context.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:31 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


That particular Ferrari is pretty disgusting all on its own.
posted by basicchannel at 1:38 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I recall, the members of the Party in China always was a rather elite and exclusive group. A 1%.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:38 PM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I guess it really depends on what kind of circles you frequent. My first reaction is to say that he's misreading North America's political climate right now. But on second thought, it might be fair: as turbulent as North America is, I don't think that it even touches the gap between the rich and the poor in China.
The rich in China have a lot of power relative to the poor, and the poor don't have much. In the US the poor are able to live with at least a little comfort: indoor plumbing, air-conditioning, a beater car and all the junkfood they can eat. That's obviously not true in all cases, but it is in a lot of cases.

But the thing is: Rich people in the U.S are really, really rich. Even though you have a higher floor the ceiling is orders of magnitude higher. Remember, these are second generation rich, while in the U.S. you have multiple generations of wealth accumulation and networking between rich families.

Anyway, it turns out that the Gini coefficient for the U.S and China are actually about the same.
posted by delmoi at 1:39 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Despite their totalitarianism and degradation of human rights, Part of me will always admire the Chinese for transitioning from Communism to Fascism/Corporatism without wasting any time on democracy.
posted by Renoroc at 1:41 PM on May 10, 2012 [7 favorites]




Despite their totalitarianism and degradation of human rights, Part of me will always admire the Chinese for transitioning from Communism to Fascism/Corporatism without wasting any time on democracy.
posted by Renoroc at 1:41 PM on May 10 [+] [!]


Their governance style hasn't changed. China has been totalitarian for a ridiculously long time.
Their economy has changed, but that can have surprisingly little to do with how liberal your government is.

The Soviet Union is in much the same boat.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:44 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The real outrage is gold wheels on a Ferrari. Eeew.
posted by The World Famous at 1:59 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I recall, the members of the Party in China always was a rather elite and exclusive group. A 1%.

For what it's worth, it's about 6% of the population of the PRC who are Party members.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 2:01 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


That particular Ferrari is pretty disgusting all on its own.
The article asks if they're "stereotyping" -- Is it really surprising that Chinese people actually like stuff that's 'stereotypically' Chinese?
The Soviet Union is in much the same boat.
Except they did have a failed democratic period.

Also, China had a supposedly democratic government for a few years in the early 20th century, starting in 1912. I don't know if they got around to holding any elections though (I don't think they did). The government and party retained control over Taiwan, and they eventually had elections in 2000.
posted by delmoi at 2:13 PM on May 10, 2012


The real outrage is gold wheels on a Ferrari. Eeew.

But they sure look great on an 80s Lambo.
posted by thedaniel at 2:30 PM on May 10, 2012


They look great on a Subaru rally car, too. But on a red Ferrari? Eeew.
posted by The World Famous at 2:31 PM on May 10, 2012


The whole dragon design thing is weird -- at the Beijing auto show, several marques had dragon designs supposedly in celebration of the Year of the Dragon. They're garish and tasteless, really.
posted by spiderskull at 2:34 PM on May 10, 2012


Fourth link, eight paragraph, second sentence:
Consider how difficult it is to obtain literature here in book form.

Can someone confirm this? Are books/new releases hard to get in China? Honest question.

*the mind boggles*
posted by ruelle at 2:49 PM on May 10, 2012


Well what did you expect? A Ferrari exists solely for the purpose of the .1% burning donuts on top of the 99.9%.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:50 PM on May 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


They look great on a Subaru rally car, too.

Well, they don't make Subarus much uglier, at least.
posted by indubitable at 2:58 PM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


That particular Ferrari is pretty disgusting all on its own.

It's a little mullety by Ferrari standards, but I like it. Well, not so much the rims. Those are doofy-looking.
posted by dirigibleman at 3:06 PM on May 10, 2012


That dragon trim would make Enzo cry.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:15 PM on May 10, 2012


at the Beijing auto show, several marques had dragon designs supposedly in celebration of the Year of the Dragon. They're garish and tasteless, really.

I would say it fits rather well with that prancing stallion on a bright yellow background plastered all over the rest of the car.
posted by romanb at 3:20 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


You mean, like, on that little badge on the hood of the car? And possibly the steering wheel?
posted by indubitable at 3:25 PM on May 10, 2012


Those designs are garish and tasteless to your eye. But there's a reason they're all over actual Chinese stuff in actual China - tastes aren't the same everywhere.

As for Ferrari, the company that won't let buy their cars unless you already own one, and even then make you ask nicely and then wait for years? Fuck 'em.
posted by 1adam12 at 3:28 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


As for Ferrari, the company that won't let buy their cars unless you already own one, and even then make you ask nicely and then wait for years?

Nonsense. If you have the money, they'll sell you the car. Hell, if you have enough money, they'll make you a one-off version to your specifications. Sure, they're outrageously expensive and I'll never have one. Nevertheless . . .
posted by The World Famous at 3:31 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nonsense. If you have the money, they'll sell you the car.

Maybe if you're talking crazy money. But for normal Ferraris, there is a wait list. And many/most dealers prefer to put people who already own Ferraris on the list.

Which means the way to get a new Ferrari is to buy a used one and then get on the list.

Obviously for used Ferraris, its up to whoever you're buying it.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:33 PM on May 10, 2012


(My understanding for the "existing owners" thing is they prefer for people not to "scalp" the cars, and consider existing drivers less likely to do this).

Not sure if any of that is true for certified pre-owned (used from Ferrari) --- I looked into that a while back but the price was still too high for me (I think the cheapest certified pre-owned I found was $90k -- obviously for "normal" used cars the range goes much lower depending on age).
posted by wildcrdj at 3:36 PM on May 10, 2012


My understanding is that this isn't as true anymore. Ferrari has ramped up their production, so if you have the cash, they'll sell you a car.

You can find old Ferraris for $30K. Just be ready to spend $10-30K a year maintaining it (engine rebuilds, for instance, run $30K).
posted by spiderskull at 3:49 PM on May 10, 2012


Yeah... I think it will be pretty cool if we eventually see cars stylized to look as though they wouldn't be out of place in the Forbidden City, but that definitely would look garish and tasteless to any 20th-century or 21st-century Western eye, as would anything leading up to it.
posted by XMLicious at 4:48 PM on May 10, 2012


Yeah... I think it will be pretty cool if we eventually see cars stylized to look as though they wouldn't be out of place in the Forbidden City,

Oh, you mean the Satomobile?
posted by emjaybee at 6:14 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


And sometimes a red Ferrari in China is not a red Ferrari in China (NYT)
posted by hawkeye at 6:16 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


You mean, like, on that little badge on the hood of the car? And possibly the steering wheel?

Big yellow badges on the front fenders are available as a factory option.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:25 PM on May 10, 2012


Probably worth remembering as well that (perhaps counter intuitively) the gap between the rich and the poor is growing there, not shrinking. All the excitement about a rising middle class and a whole bunch of new millionaires really needs to sit in that context.
Another factor is how illegitimate most people see the new wealth as being; there's barely any sense of the 'self-made' millionaire, however mythical that figure might be even in the West. The general perception, largely accurate, is that wealth was acquired by the corrupt commandeering of what were once collective assets or other criminality, and obviously there's less respect still for the pampered children of those plunderers.
posted by Abiezer at 6:27 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, you mean the Satomobile?

Legend of Korra steampunk was indeed exactly what I was imagining when I made that comment! :^)
posted by XMLicious at 6:41 PM on May 10, 2012


The real outrage is gold wheels on a Ferrari. Eeew.

Ferrari F1 cars used to feature gold wheels, however they lacked the gold dragon logo on the nose-cone.
posted by Harpocrates at 7:21 PM on May 10, 2012


The driver was caught on film driving tight circles on the ancient wall, leaving

That's called "doing doughnuts" in the vernacular.

The real outrage is gold wheels on a Ferrari. Eeew.

Gold wheels on racing Ferraris go a long way back, The World Famous.

And as far as the dragon graphics go (which sort of seem like a Ferrari version of the Trans Am's screaming chicken), that sort of thing is really popular in China.

I had to cover a bunch of special versions of exotics for the Chinese market (Ferraris, Astons and what not), and the Chinese would go bonkers for these things in garish shades and with graphics that looked like something from a Fast & Furious movie. A lot of the Euro car manufacturers would just sort of shrug and say, 'Well, that's what the market is asking for.'

Oh, and the waits for new Ferraris isn't that long ... new models, like the recently released FF you might have to wait a few months for, but it's not like you order them and then they make them for you over the ensuing 8 months or something.
posted by Relay at 7:48 PM on May 10, 2012


Gold wheels on racing Ferraris go a long way back, The World Famous.

The fact that they go back a long way doesn't change the fact that they're terrible, even if on a great car.
posted by The World Famous at 8:17 PM on May 10, 2012


It could be worse.

much worse.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:21 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


much worse.

It would be worse with gold wheels.
posted by The World Famous at 8:39 PM on May 10, 2012


delmoi: " In the US the poor are able to live with at least a little comfort: indoor plumbing, air-conditioning, a beater car and all the junkfood they can eat."

Not fucking so. A lot of people in my area don't have indoor plumbing or AC, and I live in the Northeast. And you're pretty fucking precarious if you're scrounging pennies from under the floor mat to buy gas to drive your beater car to work, which is plenty common around here.

I don't think the middle-class userbase of Metafilter really quite groks what it means to be poor.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:48 PM on May 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh, and work is 20 miles away and public transport doesn't exist. This "the poor in the US have it easy" crap makes me really mad.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:49 PM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I agree with you about the poor have it easy stuff, but I live in the Northeast... I lived without AC for a while and have friends without it, but you live somewhere where people who aren't homeless only have outhouses and outdoor hand-pumped wells or no source of water at all?
posted by XMLicious at 9:23 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, rural Maine.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:14 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh. I live next door in New Hampshire and have been to Maine and Northern NH pretty frequently and was completely unaware of this. But yeah, even in the 2000 census they calculated 670,000 homes without indoor plumbing nationwide, 0.9% of the residents in Maine not having it. The question was evidently removed from the 2010 census along with the rest of the long form questions.
posted by XMLicious at 10:55 PM on May 10, 2012


I don't think the middle-class userbase of Metafilter really quite groks what it means to be poor.

I'll extrapolate that, as I often have on the blue, to say that if you're on Metafilter, you don't really get what it means to be poor. I have probably had more exposure to the world's poorest than anyone, and I'm not sure I really get it, frankly. But if you can afford $5 for a username, I'm pretty sure you're not the poorest of the poor.

I don't think its at all fair to compare the poor in the US to the poor in China. The fact alone that you could afford something like a vehicle and have to scrounge for gas money sets you in a completely other category. Many people - perhaps the majority of them (!) - in China will never ride in a car, let alone dream of owning one. That's what makes this kind of uber-extravagance so incredibly repulsive, to the point of being hard to understand.

Something has got to give, in China. I hope in my lifetime.

I was just in Beijing last month again with my wife, who used to work at an orphange / foster home outside of the city. About 1 hour outside, to be exact. The transition that you can see in one hour of travel (by car, natch), is something I have seen no where else in the world. I've lived in NYC, I've been to Bangkok and Paris and Geneva and Dubai and a plethora of other major world trade centers. But Beijing stands apart in this: in one hour, you can travel from the store fronts of Louis Vitton and Mont Blanc and YSL and Burberry and Ferrari and be standing in the filth of a rural village with no regular waste collection (so they burn their own), no regular power supply (or really any power, for most residents, who live still by firelight), and no running water indoors (about 5-10 small huts/homes will share one spigot per block).

The thing that gets me about it is that it is almost EXACTLY the same thing I see here in rural parts of Kenya (where I live, not in the rural parts, though), and other places in destitute Africa. The butchers hang meat out in the open, because nobody can afford refrigeration - flies everywhere. Dogs finding their sustenance in the refuse stinking up the place on the side of the road where in other parts of the world a sidewalk would actually be. Children defecating in the open, free of having to remove the clothes they don't own in the first place. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Now, I'm used to seeing it in Africa. Its everywhere. There's a bit of a dichotomy of wealth at least in the urban centers, and frankly here that usually means crime. The have-nots are naturally incentivized to take from the haves, by any means possible. Its not so much thought of as "crime" as a way of life. It is very often very, very violent. And you see it regularly. I have friends who have been victims of home invasions, robberies, car jackings, rapes, even murder. It just happens every day.

But as far as I can tell, this happens extremely rarely in China. Nowhere in the world, as far as I can tell, do the inequalities of wealth distribution butt up against each other and are so painfully, achingly evident. That relative peace and order remain as they do is truly a testament both to the Chinese culture and way of life, as well as to their government and the stranglehold it has had on society for so many decades.

I can not find it in me to believe that the system as it is now progressing will not collapse in some way, in the near future. When people start to starve and your handbag can save a village, things will change. Violently.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:00 AM on May 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


Probably worth remembering as well that (perhaps counter intuitively) the gap between the rich and the poor is growing (here and) there, not shrinking.

Fixed.
posted by fairmettle at 3:20 AM on May 11, 2012


Some other Chinese Ferrari-denying here.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:37 AM on May 11, 2012


Fourth link, eight paragraph, second sentence:
Consider how difficult it is to obtain literature here in book form.

Can someone confirm this? Are books/new releases hard to get in China? Honest question.


No, books are not difficult to get in China. Translations of popular English-language books are readily available at any bookstore. That whole paragraph of the article is really strange -- not only did the reporter misspell Warren Buffett's surname, but she also changed his son's name from Peter to Patrick.
posted by twisted mister at 6:15 AM on May 11, 2012


Whenever I see someone drive past in a Ferrari, I always think 'there goes a really nice Job Creator.'
posted by colie at 6:41 AM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Man, alls thats needed is a political system that supports classlessness!

The only problem with Communism-as-implemented is that the proletariat aren't doing their job and bloodily removing the bourgeois from their lofty positions of drawing air on a regular basis.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 8:27 AM on May 11, 2012


Man, I've been watching too much Korean TV. I thought the Rich2G must be the Chinese cousins of the F4.
posted by maryr at 8:48 AM on May 11, 2012


Whenever I see someone drive past me in a Ferrari, I always think....

....well, I don't, because I've never seen that.

As far as I know, they exist to be in rich peoples garages and exotic car dealerships in big cities... I've never seen one "in the wild," so to say.
posted by MysticMCJ at 9:19 AM on May 11, 2012


>I've never seen one "in the wild," so to say.

They're fairly common in big cities. Lamborghinis are still somewhat remarkable to see on the roads in the US, however. Although, once I saw one driving around the mean streets of Jakarta. That seemed like a terrible place for an exotic sports car, but I suppose the owner didn't care.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:27 AM on May 11, 2012


I've never seen one "in the wild," so to say.

There's one in the town next over (and I do mean town). Buddy drives it in the slow lane on the highway, well under the limit. He can go fast, but he sure doesn't need to.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:07 PM on May 11, 2012



I can not find it in me to believe that the system as it is now progressing will not collapse in some way, in the near future. When people start to starve and your handbag can save a village, things will change. Violently.


They tried that already. Twice, in fact. We're seeing the end result.
posted by TSOL at 1:33 PM on May 11, 2012


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