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Chinese students in US take the road to luxury

Updated: 2013-12-28 00:41
By CHEN JIA in San Francisco ( China Daily)

Increasing numbers of Chinese students are in the market for secondhand luxury cars in the United States.

This demand comes as the number of students from China enrolled at US colleges and universities reached 235,597 during the past academic year.

Wang Momo, a Chinese student at the California Institute of the Arts, who bought a used BMW to celebrate her birthday during the Christmas holidays, posted many pictures of the car on her Chinese blog.

"The price of secondhand cars in the United States is so sweet!" the 28-year-old said on her Sina Weibo page. "This car was as cheap as a Chery QQ in China."

The Chery QQ is one of the most affordable and popular choices for middle-class families in China.

"If you shop for a car on Craigslist, rather than putting money down with a dealer, it can be even cheaper," Wang said.

Her thoughts were reposted by about 30,000 Internet users overnight, many of them Chinese students in the US. Nearly 10,000 of them wrote comments and nearly 7,000 approved of her post.

Some students said they spread Wang's post because US media reports saying that Chinese students "majored" in luxury cars with hefty sums of cash had made them feel uncomfortable.

"Only a few Chinese students might use cash to pay for cars. Such purchases are usually made by a bank check," a Chinese netizen called Rihango said on his blog. "Chinese students in the United States are not Beverly Hillbillies.

"In most of the cases where cash is used, the buyers are unable to apply for a car loan because their stay in the US is too short to accumulate a sufficient credit record," he said.

Bloomberg News said Chinese students in the US often come from families that are better off than the typical US college student's family.

Paying $50,000 for a high-end car is viewed by Chinese students as affordable, because they know such cars can cost two to three times as much in China due to hefty import duties, the report said.

A survey by consulting firm Zinch found that 62 percent of Chinese students said they could afford at least $40,000 a year for a college education. The survey covered 25,000 Chinese students last year.

The report said about $15.5 billion was spent by Chinese students in the US on buying new and secondhand vehicles in 2012 and up to October 2013, according to Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing Research. During the same period, their US counterparts spent $4.7 billion on vehicles.

During the 22-month survey period, CNW said more than 50 percent of the vehicles bought by Chinese students in the US were new, and 32 percent of them were paid for in cash. The average price was $52,796.


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