Getting to the International Exhibition Centre
A motor journalist friend got us access to the media day at the AutoBeijing motor show. I agreed, thinking it was at the China International Exhibition Centre in the middle of town, a twenty minute cab ride away. Looking at the tickets whe they arrived it was at the New China International Exhibition Center, about an hour outside of town.
No matter – we drove out about 80% of the way then parked near one of the above ground metro stops. The quoted price for a day of parking was 2rmb, but the guy with the tickets was collecting 10rmb per car. Still very cheap, but looking at the hundreds of cars around, someone was making a tidy backhander.
A free shuttle coach took us from the metro stop out to the exhibition hall where we were immediately surrounded by scalpers begging to buy or sell tickets. Given the prices were roughly similar, I couldn’t really see why those begging to buy and those trying to sell couldn’t come to some sort of agreement and all head home for the day…
Anyway, the AutoBeijing show is spread across all nine of the individual exhibition halls that make up the entire centre.
There wasn’t any obvious planning in the positioning of stands, so Chinese cars that could be bought for forty thousand rmb sat next to Lamborghinis with multi-million rmb price tags.
The larger stands belonging to Asian companies had dance acts or modelling shows going on every few minutes, whilst the Western companies tended towards large video walls showing the cars in action. Having not been to a car show for about fifteen years I’m not sure what causes this divide, but the Japanese dancing and catwalk shows felt dated in comparison to the big German and US multimedia displays.
Likewise the Chinese journalists were huddled round the latest Western imports, whilst the foreign press were more eager to see the local products.
Another noticeable pattern was the photographers. Western photographers were trying to get the best angle on the rarely seen Chinese cars. Chinese photographers were trying to cut the car out of the frame to get the best angle on the rarely seen Western models.
The journey back was a lot less organised. Most visitors seemed to have done the same as us, entering the front of the exhibition hall, looking round then leaving through the rear entrance. In a slight planning oversight all the free buses were back at the entrance, so for those of us at the rear the choice was between a long walk round the outside of the centre, or the crowded subway.
AutoBeijing Visitor Tips
If you happen to go, consider doing a left to right loop, so that you see everything and still end up back at the entrance.
It’s very warm inside. We were there on the press day and it was very crowded. The public days would be more like Saturdays at IKEA.
Many of the stands give out free bags. They’re really well made and ideal for shopping.
Don’t miss exhibition hall E5. It’s set a bit back from the other 8 (W1-W4 & E1-E4). There’s also an area out the back where you can see camper vans and test Segway clones.
Take your own food and drink – soft drinks are unchilled and overly expensive, and the food on offer is not too appealing. In the centre courtyard there’s a Costa Coffee if your energy starts to wane.
Some of the entertainment seemed to have little connection with cars. There was a man wandering round dressed in an uniform reminicent of a Nazi officer, accompanied by an Asian lady dressed as a Southern Belle from the US: