2010 Porsche PanameraEnlarge Photo
Yes, you read that title correctly. I’m officially scared of China. No, it’s not because of their ever-more-modernizing military, or the fact that their labor costs are ungodly low, or the fact that they own nearly a trillion dollars’ worth of U.S. debt. That's nothing. What scares me about China is that they like big fat cars. They really, really like them.
As The New York Times Wheels Blog recently pointed out, automakers are paying more and more attention to the wants of Chinese customers now that their country is the largest new car market on the planet. And what Chinese customers want are large, luxurious, multiple-seated versions of sports cars, hence the Porsche Panamera, the Aston Martin Rapide, and their most recent efforts to get Ferrari to turn one of its supercars into a sedan.
This scares me because frankly, we’ve got enough large, heavy vehicles on the road as it is. The rest of the world had a hard enough time fighting off America’s bad influence with this car design thing that I fear that another superpower with similar tastes will be the beginning of the end of automakers even remotely trying to appease the increasingly small minority of individuals that appreciate lightweight, sporty cars.
Yes, I guess it’s a little bit reactionary of me to get so upset over the possibility of a wave of Porsche Panamara-esque cars washing over our shores, and yes, far worse things could happen. But you have to admit that automakers need little extra encouragement to keep building bigger, heavier cars as it is. With few exceptions, that seems to be all they're consistently good at. And while it may be a little early at this point to start predicting the future of automobiles with any certainty, I can definitely say that I’m a little nervous. Nervous and longing for the day when a nation made up entirely of Caterham and Lotus enthusiasts will come to dominate the global economy.