• Thu
  • Jul 31, 2014
  • Updated: 8:08am

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.



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This article is now closed to comments

Michael Lee
What utter ignorance!
Com'on, the frequency of using car horns in China has already reduced significantly. Recalling in 1992 when I first visiting Shantou, I thought I was starring in the looney tunes animation, 'The Road Runner'. You could hear the bi-bi every 4-5 seconds.
It is unbelievable that car makers significantly contribute to noise pollution in all Chinese cities. Honking already makes the life in Chinese cities unbearable. It is astounding to know that car makers make the horns louder and more unpleasant in tunes. The habit of honking is moving to HK too, where some drivers honk incessantly. Honking should be banned.
No, do not ban it. Charge it. It's good income for the city.
If they charged only $50 in England every driver who has no light during rain, fog and dusk they'd be out of debt before the year is over.
I've lived 8 years in China now and have driven here 5 years. There is 40 times more need to use ones horn in China compared with the UK, for example. They pull out without looking almost without exception. Pedestrians walk blindly into the road. They fall asleep at the lights or are engrossed in their SMS conversation. They ride on the white lines. They never get out of the fast lane. They drive the wrong way up the carriage way. The list is endless.
In Germany, the first and most important rule in road law is: always drive in such a way that no emergency occurs, always anticipate other people's behaviour and adjust your own accordingly. Horns must only be used in emergencies (which is never, if you follow rule #1). Anticipate other people driving erratically and keep a safe distance. Give way to the "weaker" traffic participant, like pedestrians, cyclists, motorbikes. And never force your own right.
A Chinese 3 hour traffic jam just because a lorry wants to turn left and isn't given any space and opportunity by anyone else, is always good fun to watch. :-)
Maybe Chinese drivers should take heed of this brochure from a car rental firm in Tokyo: "When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigor."
Only 40 times? Unlikely. In most EU countries you are basically not allowed to use the horn. In China the horn is installed in the seat, once the driver sits it starts working. He has no hand to use the horn, he needs both hands to use his mobile and smoke, occasionally steering.
If you think that drivers in China horn too often just go to India! India may well be the horn capital of the world.
When driving in Shanghai, yes, I have one hand on the horn and the other on the steering.
When I first landed upon the plains of intense humidity and blistering summers, the first thing I noticed in Guangzhou was the almost total absence of car horns! This was a shocker having just arrived from Shanghai where horns were surgically attached to drivers and electric prods were probably applied if they didn't lay on the horn more than once every 15 seconds.
Signs were everywhere in Guangzhou with threats of 200 yuan fines for honking in the "City of the 5 Celestial Rams".
Fast forward many years with an ever multiplying population of new (terrible) drivers unafraid of a mere 200 yuan fine and you'll see dear, quiet Guangzhou has caught up with the big leagues and now creates noise pollution with the best of the worst cities in China.
The laws are still on the books, but with everything in China, enforcement is not a priority and public education falls on (ironically) deaf ears.
20 years ago Guangzhou was like China, until they issued the horn ban.
Given the wide range of markets in China, it seems quite naive to conclude "all Chinese drivers use their horns 40 times more frequently than European drivers".
On the spot and not naive at all. May even be more than 40x.


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