China to discuss importing historic cars

China will discuss lifting a longstanding ban on importing historic vehicles – opening up the world’s biggest car market to classic cars – this September.

The Classic Vehicle Union of China said it will hold meetings with representatives of the Chinese Government to discuss revoking regulations preventing the imports of older vehicles.

Guian Zong, executive president of the FBHVC’s Chinese counterpart, said: ‘The impact would be huge, because the appetite for classic cars in China is dramatic. There is a huge demand, so allowing cars to be imported would definitely have a global influence on prices.

‘As we all know, China is a very big market – there are currently 0.14 billion cars on the country’s roads, and that number increases by 24 million every year. The popularity and awareness of classic cars has increased dramatically over the past decades, but while the interest has grown, at the moment the law still prohibits these vehicles being imported.’

He added that wealthy Chinese enthusiasts currently use the few classic vehicles already in the country before the law was enacted, or keep their collections abroad, noting one collector who keeps 100 of his cars in London.

The union said that while the Chinese market had a particular appetite for US cars and well-known British brands including Rolls-Royce and Bentley, it added that the import restrictions meant the wider Chinese population are not as aware of classic cars as their European and American counterparts.

Mr Zong – who has just concluded a visit to the UK to investigate the British classic car movement, including attending this year’s Goodwood Members’ Meeting  – has discussed the proposals with his British counterparts at the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs, and in return has offered his assistance to UK clubs keen to organise events in the People’s Republic.

Geoff Lancaster, spokesman, said: ‘Given the way the system works in China, any change of the rules isn’t going to happen overnight, but now is the time for the Chinese to look at how their infrastructure will work with historic vehicles. In particular, just as we do in the UK, there will need to be a new generation of young apprentices to learn the skills needed to maintain and restore these older vehicles.

‘We have pledged to help the CVUC make the social and economic case for the rules in China to be relaxed, and our chairman will visiting later this year to explain how the classic car scene in the UK works. In particularly, we’ll be showing how historic vehicles benefit the economy, as we have all the figures from previous studies for the UK. If it can add £4.2bn to the economy on a small island with 60 million people living on it, imagine what benefit it would bring to a country like China.’

David Simister in
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