In the year 2000, there were only 16 million cars on China's roads. That's one vehicle for every 79 people in its 1.2 billion population. Today, the country's vehicle parc (number of vehicles in use) is more than 10 times larger at more than 190 million. Most of that growth has taken place within the last nine years, driven in part by economic stimulus efforts introduced after the global financial crisis of 2007-2008.
There's plenty of further sales potential. Vehicle ownership in China now stands at 140 per 1,000 people, compared to around 250 per thousand in Brazil and almost 800 in the U.S. China has a billion people of driving age, and while car ownership is still out of reach for many, the fast-growing economy makes it a possibility for many more each year. The country's wealthier urban population is growing at almost 20 percent a year: by 2020, for example, more than 60 percent of the population will live in cities.
China's economic liberalization has made plenty of people rich by global standards. The country is on track to become the world's largest luxury car market by 2020, and the premium vehicle segment is forecast to grow at twice the overall market rate. Global automotive executives now see China as the best place to launch new products and services, ahead of the U.S. and Germany.