Undaunted by ubiquitous traffic jams and parking shortages, Kunming's car owning class is going upmarket, spending large sums on luxury cars as well as underground parking spaces that cost more per square meter than most apartments in the city.
On Friday a man walked into Kunming's first Bentley dealership, which opened on Dianchi Lu in April. He immediately paid deposit on a new hybrid version of a Bentley Continental GT, one of only 30 such cars in the world. The next day he completed payment for the almost 5 million yuan (US$738,000) vehicle and drove it home.
Sales at the dealership, Bentley's tenth in China, surprised even the general manager for China, who said, "Kunming is going to become a big base for Bentley in Southwest China, driving sales volume in the whole country." The dealership sold 10 cars during its first three months of operation.
On Sunday the developer of of a new high-end housing complex in Kunming's Guandu District began selling 12-square-meter parking spaces in the complex's underground garage for 110,000 to 150,000 yuan each depending on location. After selling 52 spaces before noon, the sales office unexpectedly increased the price to 180,000 yuan.
The new price came to 15,000 yuan per square meter in a city where housing has recently been selling at an average price of about 8,000 yuan per square meter. Despite the developer raising the per-meter price to almost double that of the average Kunming apartment it still managed to sell six more parking spaces by the end of the day.
Such anecdotes suggest that wealthy Kunming citizens are willing to pay large sums for the status, convenience and sense of freedom offered by private cars—despite ongoing congestion issues.
If Kunming continues its strong economic growth and adds significantly as expected to both its physical area and population in coming years, such anecdotes may also belie hopes that new highways and construction of a six line metro system that began in May will eventually ease congestion on Kunming's streets.© Copyright 2005-2017 GoKunming.com all rights reserved. This material may not be republished, rewritten or redistributed without permission.