Car horns used 40 times more often in China than in Europe

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 July, 2013, 3:42am

Car horns are used 40 times more often in China than in Europe.

That was one of the lessons French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen learned when it expanded on the mainland.

"In Europe, a car horn is used 10,000 times on average," Pierre Frederic Lebelle, head of the company's Shanghai-based China Tech Centre, told Le Monde newspaper. "In China, it's 400,000 times."

Peugeot is not the only carmaker adapting its horns to Chinese tastes. US carmaker Ford came up with an electronic horn for its Chinese customers, wrote motoring blogger Nooralia Zaharin, because they "drive with one hand on the steering wheel and one hand on the horn … they want it to sound melodic".

Fords on the mainland sound different from the softer, often dual, trumpet sound of their North American equivalents, whose drivers are "tuned to frequencies that are not unpleasant, but are just slightly discordant", she wrote.

Cars don't sell in China if they are not made to suit local driving habits. "The major question is how to adapt to Chinese consumers," said Klaus Paur, global head of automotive at Ipsos.

The China Tech Centre employs 400 engineers to adapt its French cars to the Chinese market. It plans to increase its headcount of engineers, designers and technicians to 1,000.

The Chinese version of the Peugeot 3008 is "much more imposing than its European equivalent", Lebelle said, reasoning that they need to have "face".

The Paris-based carmaker has just opened its third plant on the mainland, in Wuhan , Hubei province, to offset slumping demand in Europe.

China's market for cars will grow 8 per cent annually until 2020, McKinsey consulting firm predicts. The luxury car market will grow even faster, up to 12 per cent annually.