Rolling symbols of city's affluence
All along the 20 kilometre thoroughfare from the airport to downtown Wenzhou there are long lines of Porsche Cayennes, Bentleys, Mercedes-Benzes, BMWs and Audis, making the road the equivalent of a showroom of European luxury cars.
In the heart of the city in Zhejiang province, there are so many cars and so few car parks that many are double-parked on the footpaths, and traffic jams are part of Wenzhou's daily life.
'Wenzhou drivers choose their cars not by safety factors, but by face and market rank,' said Lin Yang, a car dealer and a Wenzhou native. 'Luxuries are a symbol of status.'
Cars, especially Mercedes, were commonly given as gifts by Wenzhou husbands to their wives, Lin said. Still, despite the affluence, even he was surprised to see a Maybach limousine, costing about 13 million yuan (HK$14.7 million) parked outside the five-star Shangri-La Hotel, which had recently opened for business.
'If you want to see cool models, stroll around the university area,' Lin said. 'Parents let their children choose the cars they want to drive to school.'
In a city of 7 million people, the number of cars a family owns was increasing to two from one previously, Lin said.
Wenzhou is the largest regional market for BMWs and Audis on the mainland, and Audi was the first European carmaker to enter the city in the early 1990s, Lin said.