Models gear up car sales

Updated: 2011-04-25 12:30

By Gao Changxin (China Daily)

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Models gear up car sales

A model poses with a concept "car" at the Shanghai auto show on April 20. [Photo / Xinhua]

Beauty helps steer buyers as market accelerates, reports Gao Changxin in Shanghai.

Just by being glamorous, Wang Tingting plays a part in driving China's car boom and gets a decent return from it.

And she does it while wearing high heels, delicate dresses and posing in different ways around new car models. Her main job is to associate her image with the car beside her and stimulate sales.

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Wang, 21, a car model for three years, and thousands of other models, play a meaningful role in promoting vehicle brands and sales on China's road to becoming the world's biggest car market, say manufacturers and brand experts.

This month, at the 14th Shanghai International Automotive Industry Exhibition, Wang was stunning, as usual, in a golden sequined minidress, high heels and pale stockings, serving as a model for BMW AG's Mini.

"I like doing car-modeling," she said. "The pay is getting higher and higher. It pays me more than doing other types of modeling, such as runway work."

BMW is paying Wang about 10,000 yuan ($1,537) a day, well above her average pay, for the 10-day auto show. She does five 20-minute presentations a day to promote the latest Mini models.

Wang, who is 177 cm tall, started her modeling career after finishing in the top 10 of the 2007 New Silk Road Model Competition. She is versatile, appearing in magazines and on television and runways. But she said her career is increasingly tilting toward car modeling because a huge demand, created by China's growing number of auto shows and other auto-related activities, is pushing up car models' wages.

Last year, modeling for Nissan Motor Co, Porsche Automobile Holding SE and Chongqing Chang'an Suzuki Automobile Co Ltd in various auto shows brought her more than 150,000 yuan, and this year she expects more.

"Not just me," she said. "Many of my model friends have the same intention, to take more jobs in car modeling. These jobs are easier to find and pay pretty handsomely."

Much room to grow

The boom in car modeling rides the surge in China's automotive sector. In 2009, China overtook the United States as the world's biggest auto market. Vehicle sales hit a record 13.64 million units, jumping from 9.38 million sold in 2008, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The nation secured the top spot again in 2010, with 18.06 million vehicles sold.

The ratio of car ownership in China is still low - 50 cars for every 1,000 people, compared with a world average of 160 and a US ratio of 860 - but that translates into great growth potential. As a result, domestic and foreign carmakers are rushing to introduce their latest models to the Chinese market, which inflates the demand for car models.

At the Shanghai auto show, which opened on Tuesday, more than 2,000 car and parts makers from 20 countries are premiering 75 model vehicles and displaying 1,100, making it one of the biggest auto shows worldwide.

Huang Shaohua, a senior editor with the auto channel of news portal Inc, described the number of auto shows in China as "explosive". He said there are 10 major auto shows nationwide and numerous smaller ones. Even some auto websites organize their own shows, he said.


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