Blog: Shanghai auto show bans scantily dressed models

Girls, who traditionally drape themselves over vehicles, are now fully clothed, as China furthers its austerity drive.

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    There seems to be less strutting corporate pride on display in Shanghai this year as auto sales are slowing [Adrian Brown/Al Jazeera]
    There seems to be less strutting corporate pride on display in Shanghai this year as auto sales are slowing [Adrian Brown/Al Jazeera]

    When I first came to China 26 years ago private car ownership was unheard of. Today the country is the world's largest auto market, which makes the Shanghai car show the industry's most important global event.

    But there's not quite the usual razzmatazz this year. The chill winds of China's austerity and anti-corruption drive are buffeting this event.

    Scantily clad models, who traditionally drape themselves over vehicles, have been banned. The models are still here - but are fully clothed this year.

    Some commentators have argued that the decision is overbearing.

    Others say the model ban brings a much needed degree of decency. Among the 2,000 manufacturers represented here, there seems to be less strutting corporate pride on display this year.

    Like China's economic growth, auto sales are slowing. They grew by seven percent last, half what they were in 2013.

    It's not just slowing GDP that's to blame. Demand for cars is taking a hit from the increasing number of cities - Shanghai included - that are placing limits on car sales to tackle worsening pollution.

    The premium market has also been dented by the anti-corruption crusade. Government officials no longer want to be seen being driven in luxury sedans. Thousands have been hastily offloaded to second hand dealerships.

    There's also disappointing data for electric car sales. As of September there were only 70,000 new energy vehicles on the roads, most of them public buses or taxis.

    The government has set a target of five million by 2020. Based on current growth rates, that now seems unlikely.

    In fact, globally there are only five million electric cars on the road.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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