German automaker Volkswagen Group will expand its import portfolio to meet the increasingly diverse demands of Chinese consumers, said a senior manager in its China operations recently.
The third race in Volkswagen's Scirocco Cup China 2010 was held on the Chengdu International Circuit as part of efforts by the auto icon to enhance its sporty image. Photos provided to China Daily
"With more mature market segmentation in China, Volkswagen's imported vehicles will play an increasingly important role in the next two or three years as they complement the product lineup from our local joint ventures," said Hu Bo, marketing director of the VW brand at Volkswagen Group China.
One of the best things about imported vehicles is they let consumers enjoy genuine Volkswagen-branded cars, Hu said.
Hu's words came in an interview after the third race in Volkswagen's Scirocco Cup China 2010 on the Chengdu International Circuit.
The competition - named after the company's sports coupe Scirocco - came to China last year following the model's launch in the country at the beginning of 2009.
Volkswagen plans to hold the Scirocco Cup in China for three consecutive years - from 2009 to 2011 - to promote the sporty spirit of the VW brand.
Hu noted that the Scirocco cars used in the race have exactly the same powertrain as mass-produced versions, with modifications only made to the suspension and other components for safety concerns.
"We want consumers to know that the car they buy is powered by the same TSI engine and DSG transmission as those speed along on the racing track," said Hu.
The Scirocco currently sold in China has two engine options - 1.4-liter and 2.0-liter - both turbocharged engines and paired to Volkswagen's seven-speed or six-speed automatic transmission.
Hu said the race also adds more sporty and dynamic spirit to the Volkswagen nameplate since the German brand is often considered reliable, but staid.
This year, the racing event will tour seven cities, mostly in south China, as part of the company's overarching strategy to raise its influence in the south, said Hu, noting that consumers in the south have a preference for sports cars.
Earlier this year Volkswagen and its Chinese partner FAW Group launched the locally made Golf GTI in Guangzhou to become the first foreign automaker to produce a sports car in China.
With both the Golf GTI and Scirocco, Volkswagen offers young customers that favoring sporty cars affordable choices compared with much more expensive supercars, Hu said. He predicted that China's sporty cars segment will thrive in the next few years.
According to statistics provided by the company, Volkswagen delivered 21,760 imported vehicles in China in the first half, more than double the figure of the January-June period last year, already exceeding its 2009 full-year tally.
Its current imported lineup in China ranges from the sporty hatchback Scirocco, the iconic Beetle and the luxury SUV Touareg, up to the exclusive, hand-made Phaeton. It also includes the Eos convertible, the Multivan MPV and the R36 high-performance car.