Baby boon: mini-vans the next big thing as China eases one-child policy
By Jake Spring
GUANGZHOU, China (Reuters) - Automakers are betting that Chinese families will embrace the mini-van, hoping the larger, unsexy sibling of the bestselling SUV will become the next big thing just as Beijing relaxes the one-child policy.
Mini-vans, or multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs), were front and center at the Guangzhou auto show, where Volkswagen AG presented a supersized version of its Touran and Guangzhou Automobile Group subsidiary GAC Motor showcased a prototype mini-van. The show ended Sunday.
These seven-seaters currently account for just 10 percent of passenger car sales in China, but sales are growing at a faster pace than the entire auto market, the world's largest.
Industry experts say the appetite for bigger cars is strong enough in China, where extended families often live under one roof, to potentially turn it into the largest MPV market after the United States, where automakers have sold big cars to families for years.
At the end of October, China further relaxed its one-child policy, a move which experts said would not necessarily lead to a sudden increase in the size of the average family.
But Chinese authorities hope it will help boost the population to 1.45 billion by 2030 from 1.37 billion at the end of last year.
"After the roll out of the two-child policy, I believe the market share of 7-seat SUVs and MPVs will further strengthen," Wu Song, GAC Motor's general manager, told Reuters.
MPV sales for the first 10 months of the year grew 7.8 percent, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, outperforming the 1.5 percent growth in the overall car market. Continued...