‘Chinese start-ups are forcing established car makers to change’

With Lynk & Co and Byton targeting Europe without showrooms, it's no wonder Vauxhall is cutting dealerships, writes John McIlroy

There was a time, not long ago, when Chinese motor shows were almost a laughing stock. The halls would be filled with a mixture of under-engineered vehicles from the local manufacturers and knock-offs trying desperately to look like premium products from Europe.

Not any more. This week’s Beijing Motor Show feels as major as any of the other global showcases.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Geely Concept Icon unveiled at Beijing Motor Show

It’s the locals who are making the big strides, too, mixing China’s huge muscle in the battery market with a lack of heritage and ‘legacy’ that gives them huge potential when it comes to building cars and selling them. After all, if you don’t have thousands of dealer contracts worldwide, you can afford to take a radical approach on how you engage with customers – or even if you sell cars at all, instead of leasing them to users instead of owners.

The first test of this is likely to be Lynk & Co, which has already stated that it will come to Europe from next year, but without traditional showrooms. It won’t be alone, though; Byton, which showed a fresh prototype of its SUV in Milan last week, has also stated that its customers will subscribe through ‘brand stores’ and online access.

Contrast this with the fortunes of Vauxhall, which announced last week that it will trim a chunk of its dealers over the next couple of years. There are other reasons why this fabled British brand needs to slim down its dealership portfolio, of course; it’s operating under new owners who are targeting profit margins after years of the firm chasing huge volumes.

But even so, we think Vauxhall is unlikely to be the last established name to reboot the way it sells cars in the years ahead. And we wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of the Chinese start-ups in the halls of Beijing are the ones forcing the change.

Could Chinese start-ups change the motoring industry, or will their influence be short-lived? Let us know what you think in the comments section…




'The advice around what we should do before, during and after we drive our cars is less than clear'

Only essential driving during the Coronavirus lockdown is allowed, but what we need to do before, during and after our journey isn't as clear, says Mi…
5 Apr 2020

‘It’s Car Care Week, so head outside and show your motor a little love’

If you can’t drive your car, editor-in-chief Steve Fowler thinks you should wash it instead. When you're done, send us a pic and we’ll print the best
1 Apr 2020

'The temporary shutdown of car factories could benefit manufacturers and customers'

With car factories around the world closing temporarily, it may give manufacturers the chance to clear out the current backlog of unsold new cars, say…
28 Mar 2020

‘JLR’s very British approach: keep calm and carry on’

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler praises Jaguar Land Rover on both its ability to handle a crisis
26 Mar 2020

Most Popular


New SEAT Leon 2020 review

The all-new SEAT Leon hatchback impresses with its blend of sporty handling and cutting-edge technology
3 Apr 2020
Hyundai i20

New 2021 Hyundai i20 N to rival Ford Fiesta ST with 200bhp

New Hyundai i20 N to join i30 N in brand’s hot hatch line-up and our exclusive images preview how it could look
2 Apr 2020
Hyundai Kona electric front
Hyundai Kona Electric

Hyundai Kona Electric to get increased range from July

UK-delivered Hyundai Kona Electrics will be outfitted with a handful of mechanical revisions, boosting the SUV’s maximum range to 300 miles
18 Mar 2020