Hong Kong car dealers get less mileage when info is lost in translation

New season, new wheels: lucky Bayern offered the best in Four Rings, but England’s finest make do with something a little more conservative

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 August, 2016, 1:03pm
UPDATED : Friday, 26 August, 2016, 9:34pm

Volvo makes charming cars, but Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Audi work harder for English-speaking Hongkongers.

We were left with this impression when Volvo Hong Kong emailed us a post-showroom opening press release in Chinese, with a “Translate” text function.

Unfortunately, the program turned the marque’s Chinese text into gibberish English, just as the company’s top brass were paying a visit to Hong Kong celebrate “A new milestone of Volvo Cars Hong Kong” on August 18 - the launch of its Polestar.

We sent a copy of Volvo Hong Kong’s “Translate” text to the company’s headquarters this week, to see how its brand managers react.

Toyota dealer Crown Motors has also adopted the “Translate” strategy, even though its Lexus showroom staff are among the most informed and fluent automotive English-speakers on Gloucester Road.

Meanwhile, the German marques bombard us almost daily with press releases and web links about its cars – and in spotless English.

For example, Audi Hong Kong reminded local fans on Tuesday that Bayern Munich’s footballers and coaches have just received Four Rings’ company cars in front of hundreds of fans at the Audi Piazza in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt.

“The trend is clear,” says Katty Chu, an Audi spokeswoman in Hong Kong.

“Together with new signing Mats Hummels, far more than half of the football players opted for one of the sporty RS models.” Holger Badstuber, Xabi Alonso and Thiago Alcantara were among 15 players choosing the four-litre TFSI quattro Audi RS 6, Audi Hong Kong says, while the similarly powered RS 7 was favoured by Mats Hummels, Franck Ribery and Robert Lewandowski.

Meanwhile, new Bayern signing Renato Sanches preferred a more traffic-friendly Audi A3 Sportback, and coach Carlo Ancelotti got his S8 plus in July, the marque adds. Audi and Bayern have collaborated since 2002, but the Four Rings also has links with Barcelona.

Meanwhile, Manchester United is with Chevrolet; Liverpool is with MG, Arsenal’s with Citroen, Juventus with Jeep, and Wolfsburg with Volkswagen.

Lamborghini Hong Kong also revs its brand in fabulous English.

Last Friday, the dealer collaborated with investment firm Art Futures Group in “Art in Motion”, a swish event that drew art-, car- and cocktail-loving socialites such as Anina Ho, fashion designer Cecilia Yau, artist Lisa Ching, and racing driver Denise Yeung (pictured) to the Flint Grill & Bar of the JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong.

The high-octane party’s centrepiece was “Red Rhapsody”, contemporary artist Ann Niu’s stunning interpretation of a Lamborghini Huracan LP 580-2.

Flint barman Bryson Rivera also commemorated the arty V10 supercar with a “Red Borealis” cocktail of aperol, prosecco, orange and grapefruit juices rimmed with sugar “to represent the tough yet pure soul of the Lamborghini Raging Bull”.

The bar will be serving the concoction for HK$128 per glass until September 30. Then it’s back to Flaming Lamborghinis, Sidecars and the Bentley cocktail, perhaps.

Finally, Hong Kong-based The Peninsula Hotels held several upscale events during Monterey Car Week, south of San Francisco.

On August 16, a 1937 Talbot-Lago T150C SS Figoni et Falaschi “Goutte d’Eau” won the inaugural The Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award. Judged by 24 prominent car experts, the winner was chosen “from a pool of six ‘Best of Show’ vehicles” from the world’s top six international concours events, the group says.

“It has been said that the look of the Talbot-Lago Teardrop epitomised speed, aerodynamic efficiency and elegance. Its form was perfect for an object in motion, resembling raindrops as they fall to earth,” said Michael Kadoorie, chairman of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, and parent company of The Peninsula Hotels.

On August 19, the group presented 250 collectibles at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering at Carmel’s Quail Lodge & Golf Club, where a 1953 Ferrari 375 MM Pinin Farina Spyder, owned by Andreas Mohringer, won the Rolex Circle of Champions Best of Show Award.

“It’s the only unrestored racing Ferrari 375 MM PF Spyder existing out of nine cars, with an extensive United States racing history,” the group says.

The Peninsula Hotels also presented a show and ride for bikes; and rallied 40 collectors through the California countryside, where it also previewed the company’s 150th anniversary festivities.

The Peninsula Tokyo is also sponsoring “The Peninsula Tokyo Rally Nippon 2017 – A Peninsula Signature Event” for 160 people and 80 cars on a 450-500km camaraderie-and-culture trip from Kyoto to Tokyo from October 21 to 25, 2017.