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‘Even posh car brands like Porsche and Mercedes are being squeezed by new Chinese rivals’

Deputy editor Richard Ingram thinks luxury brands must adapt to survive if Chinese brands are able to match them for space, kit and quality

Opinion - Porsche

The mainstream market is quickly filling up with credible alternatives to the Renaults, Vauxhalls, SEATs and Citroens we’ve been leasing for the past decade – some from Chinese manufacturers we hadn’t even heard of three or four years ago.

In the past 12 months we’ve seen MG beat Volkswagen in one of our Real-world Road Tests, while BYD’s Dolphin is sister site Carbuyer’s Car of the Year. Last week, I tested the latest offering from Omoda – discovering a credible, and cheaper, Nissan Qashqai alternative in the process.

The premium market is different, though. Brand loyalty is much bigger in the premium sector, with car manufacturers constantly leaning on their legacy to keep customers coming back time and time again.

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Driving the latest Porsche Macan Electric got me thinking. How long can these kudos-enriched companies trade on their bling badges? If the Chinese can match the Europeans for space, kit and quality, yet undercut them by thousands of pounds, do the premium players need to watch their backs?

The short answer is, yes. Sure, you can’t write off years of success overnight, and even in the electric car era, a Porsche is still a Porsche. But how long can those without a tangible modern-day USP (I’m looking at you, Mercedes) last?

Big screens are not enough; China does tech as well as anyone, and chances are your smartphone has a BYD battery in it. Plus, speaking of batteries, if time is money, then look at Nio – its innovative cell-swapping tech is looking to slash charge times by more than half.

Perceived quality in Chinese models is improving with every iteration, too. Plus we’re spending more and more time in our cars, and how we interact with them is changing. If badge isn’t a barrier, then it’s worth waiting for the imminent arrival of Chinese EV brand XPeng.

Germany, are you listening? Now’s the time to carve yourself a new niche. Your legacy won’t last forever.

Do you agree with Rich? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section...

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Deputy editor

Richard has been part of the team for over a decade. During this time he has covered a huge amount of news and reviews for Auto Express, as well as being the face of Carbuyer and DrivingElectric on Youtube. In his current role as deputy editor, he is now responsible for keeping our content flowing and managing our team of talented writers.

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