The Beijing motor show experience isn’t just about the show itself. Getting there deserves a mention too, for both good and bad reasons. Leaving my central Beijing hotel at 8am sharp in good time for a 9am show opening my journey quickly turned from the sublime to the ridiculous.
The sublime was easy to appreciate as the chauffeured Mercedes S-Class glided past the wonderfully futuristic Rem Koolhaas-designed CCTV building. Modern Beijing at its best. Unfortunately the ridiculous followed shortly afterwards as the car got nearer to the show, and the three-lane stream of traffic heading towards the show decided – in a bid to beat the traffic in front of them and almost en masse – to cross over into two of the three remaining lanes going in the other direction, blocking all but one lane of traffic for those unluckily enough to want to go mewhere else.
Monumental gridlock followed despite the best efforts of whistling traffic police and honking drivers until it became clear that walking the last mile for 20 minutes was highly preferable. So I did. Given this scenario is a carbon copy of 2008 – minus the torrential downpour – I should have learnt my lesson, but on a broader scale it sends out a terrible message about the chaos the car industry can create at its worst. I’ll be getting the subway back (taking a leaf out of my CDN colleagues‘ more sensible outward travel plans). Longer term, something needs to give. This automotive gold rush has downsides.
By Guy Bird