Buick in China: A lesson in the plasticity of car culture.

It’s easy to forget that even the most basic assumptions we make on Oppo don’t apply everywhere. We’re an international community with a wide range of different tastes and opinions, but despite that we can all agree on a few things. For example: minivans are for hauling families and Buick isn’t a byword for luxurious exclusivity. Sounds like common sense, right?


Not in China. I just looked into the Chinese perception of Buick and I found out a few interesting things. I knew they had an unusual interest in the brand, but wanted to know why. Apparently, driving a big foreign car is conspicuous in China. They’re status symbols. And for the Chinese, a Buick epitomizes the classic “big American car” like no other US manufacturer does.

The brand does extremely well over there, so well that they’ve come out with a Chinese market version of their... minivan. That’s right. The stylish interior pictured here is from the Buick GL8 - a special luxury trim line. Businessmen like the spaciousness of minivans and these things sell in droves over there. That fascinates me. If bigger is better, you’d think something like an Escalade or a Navigator would be the hottest car. But vans don’t come with the same soccer mom stigma in China. It’s big, it’s luxurious, and it’s American - so it’s cool.

Share This Story