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January 8, 2010 10:23 AM   Subscribe

China is the new Detroit. New car sales in the United States plunged more than 20 percent in 2009 to a 27-year low 10 million vehicles, less than the 12.23 million sold in China during January-November, making the Asian giant the world's largest car market for the first time. That marked a turning point in the global auto industry, which had been led by the Big Three Detroit companies since Ford Motor Co. began mass production in 1913, introducing the world's first conveyor belt system.
posted by four panels (20 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, we're still world's the biggest polluter, so, we have that at least.
posted by gagglezoomer at 10:29 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aw man, I thought there was going to be some cool 'Abandoned China' photography or something.

Maybe it would be more accurate to say that as far as cars go, China is the new US, and the US is the new Detroit. That town's been in a state for quite a while.
posted by echo target at 10:31 AM on January 8, 2010


i misread this as "china is the new former metropolis turned wasteland that was being gentrified by bears".

Silly me.
posted by djduckie at 10:31 AM on January 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


China is the new Detroit.

If this is their tourism slogan, they may wish to reconsider.
posted by zippy at 10:33 AM on January 8, 2010


Am I misreading something? OK, China is the biggest car market. How does that relate to how large the US car manufacturing industry is? I don't think the city of Detroit was ever the largest car market, except for maybe a week or two there at the beginning of the century.
posted by billysumday at 10:36 AM on January 8, 2010


The music's nowhere near as good though.
posted by Abiezer at 10:36 AM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


So it's only a matter of time before Kiss plays there.
That's some good news for Jephie.
You drive us wild we'll drive you 瘋狂!
posted by Smedleyman at 10:39 AM on January 8, 2010


OK, China is the biggest car market. How does that relate to how large the US car manufacturing industry is?

It's probably quite good for Buick.

General Motors, selling vehicles under the Buick, Chevrolet, Opel, Saab and Cadillac names, is the best-selling foreign automaker in China. Selling a combined 876,000 vehicles in 2006, GM overtook Volkswagen the year before, although that company still holds the claim on best selling brand.[24][25] Making up nearly 35% of those sales, China is Buick's largest market, selling more there than even the United States.[26] In 2007, General Motors sold over 330,000 Buicks in China, more than twice what they sold in the United States.[here]
posted by kid ichorous at 10:41 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think fourpanels is confusing consumption and production. China being the biggest market is fantastic, at least assuming they'll buy our vehicles. We desperately need to get our trade deficit back to a reasonable level.

I've been doing research on new cars recently, getting into the market for the first time in a decade, and I'll be damned if Ford isn't making some pretty good vehicles these days. Even Chevy is apparently doing a few that are fairly high quality. Meanwhile, it appears Toyota quality and reliability are both slipping noticeably.

So, yay, the Chinese are buying cars... they may even buy some of ours. :)
posted by Malor at 10:42 AM on January 8, 2010


Black is the new white. Up is the new down. The USA is the old China.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:49 AM on January 8, 2010


They are working on making cars, One company BYD (which used to be a battery company) has been working on electric cars. Warren Buffet invested in the company back in October of '08 for $8 something and since then it's gone all the way up to $85.

Apparently they're planning on selling in LA
posted by delmoi at 11:26 AM on January 8, 2010


Well, we're still world's the biggest polluter, so, we have that at least.

Um, no, you're not. China has surpassed the U.S. as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and, while I haven't seen any figures, I can't imagine that the U.S. puts out more pollutants generally - have you read about the state of Chinese industry?

Anyway, China is not the new Detroit. The innovation that's driving a new generation of cleaner cars is being done in Detroit, in Japan, in Germany. China's working on green energy hard, sure, but they're not going to be leaders in automotive technology anytime soon.

Anyway, there's no reason to think of this in the zero-sum terms that this headline implies. As people say above, this is good news when Chinese are buying American cars. Plus, there's nothing intrisically great about being the biggest at everything. Americans were buying cars on cheap credit, not because their cars were rusting out. So a correction in the market doesn't mean Americans are too poor to drive, just that they're not driving a new car every two or three years. America needs to focus on keeping its qualitative edge in innovation and technology, not worry about always being the biggest. It's only right that as 1.2 billion people emerge from the poverty and inwardness imposed upon them by a cruel and repressive ideology enforced for years by a totalitarian regime, they should overtake a nation of 300 million in consumption of consumer goods. Good for the Chinese. There's no reason they shouldn't live as well as we do in the West. Let's focus on education and innovation so that they keep buying the cars, computers and energy technologies we design.
posted by Dasein at 11:33 AM on January 8, 2010


This is such a disaster for China, the traffic in the major cities is already horrible, and you can literally tell that it is getting worse from month to month. There are simply to many people to support any kind of car culture in China. They need to start taking all their urban planning from Tokyo right now.
posted by afu at 11:54 AM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


There's no reason they shouldn't live as well as we do in the West

We're going to need a bigger planet.
posted by CynicalKnight at 12:12 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


We're going to need a bigger planet.

We're going to need a smarter planet. If we were all still trying to feed ourselves with rakes and hoes, we'd be in trouble, too.
posted by Dasein at 12:39 PM on January 8, 2010


They need to start taking all their urban planning from Tokyo right now.

(Sorry afu, couldn't resist)
posted by IndigoJones at 12:54 PM on January 8, 2010


You know, I was in Paris about 20 years ago, waiting to get into the Louvre, when some jerkweed Texan decided that he needed to blow some hot air in my direction.

He thrilled at the idea of a billion Chinese people buying American cars -- I think he was gauging a car for every man, woman and child, as though they had some sort of 1950s-American, single-income fantasy over there and as if there was no such thing as a Chinese car factory, evar.

Just 5 years ago, I went to China and saw plenty of factories.

Doofus. I wonder where he is now?
(Probably dead. He already looked to be in his 60's at the time.)
posted by vhsiv at 4:53 PM on January 8, 2010


That's pretty uncharitable of you, vhsiv. All you've revealed is that this man was largely right about the growth of consumerism in China.
posted by Mister_A at 6:20 PM on January 8, 2010


Wait, they've got 50% unemployment rates too?
posted by Boyo at 8:03 AM on January 9, 2010


^Mister_A:You're probably right -- it was 1989 and this guy was probably in Europe for his first time as a civilian, overwhelmed by the culture, finery and reluctant English speakers, so he picked on the only visible Afro-American (me) to strike up a conversation.

But I believe his ideas about Chinese consumerism were misguided, especially since we hadn't officially entered the Wal~Mart era back in '89.
posted by vhsiv at 11:46 AM on January 9, 2010


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