Caution, Ghost Rider

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Who wants to drive in China, as Western Europeans, a special driver’s license. Our author Tom Grünweg has to get him, also thanks to Gymnastics. Then the adventure started.


Tim Adler

From Shanghai Tom Grünweg reported

Tom Grünweg

More of Tom’s articles Grünweg

Saturday, 18.08.2018
At 08:27

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Below me, a Tunnel, a bridge, winds in a spiral in the sky. I drive almost 30 km/h on the back seat of a minibus through the middle of Shanghai. I look out the side window, I see five more tracks. Like a wide asphalt carpet, they all run in the same direction. Hard to imagine that I’m supposed to move in the next few days in the car on their own through this Labyrinth of skyscrapers, construction sites and metal avalanches.

Still, I find myself on the way to the driver’s licence, a welcome office in the North-West of the city. Only in the past few years, it is allowed for foreigners in all of China, to acquire a driving license on time. The authority is like a large barracks. Patiently, I line up in the queue. Then it’s finally happening. I hold In my Hand a docket for the different stations, to complete it. First, I’ll have new passport photos made, because European pictures are a couple of mm too big, my German driver’s license translated into Chinese. An older lady ask in broken English for health check-up. Her coat no longer shines quite so white, you bored.

Tim Adler

Eye test for the driving license

In a treatment room, I will do a couple of squats, the mood is similar to the patterning. In the next room, a hearing test is carried out, in the third room, a colleague is doing an EKG. I pilgrimage through the long corridors, in which additional patients – um-driver’s license aspirants are waiting. During the Vision test, an employee holding a spoon in front of the right, then the left eye, in order to ensure that each eye looks sharp and colors from each other may differ. My feeling is that everyone here is. No matter what I answer – at the end of the thumb goes up. Now I can carry my stack of documents. After each Test, I did get a couple of papers in the Hand pressed, every Time a stamp on my docket banged. After about two hours in the authority, it is then as far. My authorities run ends in front of a glassed counter, behind the me a grumpy bailiff adopts without comment the papers out of my Hand and put me in a waiting room.

Apps overcome language barriers

There Videos for traffic education to run loop in endless. After the fifth repeat, an official around the corner finally comes and waves a sloppy laminated printout in Hand. A cheap-looking document for 50 euros, but now the way to China’s roads. The adventure of driving a car can start. On the streets of Shanghai the to 4.78 meters, stretched-out Mercedes C-class is almost like an entry-level model. Because the city is dominated by cars luxury limousines and super sports.

Tim Adler

Videos for traffic education in an endless loop

I try to put myself in the tangle of elevated roads and tunnels to navigate. My attempt to turn left, device for the test of courage. Because of the C-class and the exit of eight tracks to be run over. I put the turn signal and I am in good company. Flashing muffle, as in Germany, there is hardly the rule, loyalty to the Chinese is impressive, thanks in part to a gap-free electronic Surveillance. However, it is difficult to move on the roads in China.

This is not just due to the sheer amount of cars in the dense traffic and the hustle and confusion of the different vehicle categories. Also, the Navigation presents Smartphone no Problem, Apps, thank, can overcome all language barriers.

Young in China, but it buys classes

In spite of their rule-abiding driving style of the Chinese is unpredictable. This is simply due to the lack of experience with the car, says Guan Shaoqing, the examined for Mercedes in the development center in Beijing, the Trends in the far East. “While the Europeans have learned from an early age with cars to life, there is this phenomenon really only been 30 years,” says Shaoqing. He dated the beginning of mass motorization on the Premiere of the VW Santana: “after all, One must be rich so you can afford a car. And private wealth there is with us only since the end of the eighties.”

Neither the driver would have, therefore, to Drive the other road users are accustomed to. And as if that were not enough, zipping himself in the city of millions but of thousands of electric scooter through the streets. Unlike the Car owners it is ordered by the rule of loyalty. The reckless horseman will be for motorists to an incalculable risk. You come to meet a time on a three-lane road as a Ghost rider, and because it is not with the battery performance still seems so far away, to you, of course, most of the time even without light.

Tim Adler

On the road in Shanghai

The late beginning of mass motorization and the enormous economic momentum of the giant Empire, also has an influence on the buyer structure, says Shaoqing: The customers are observed for an average of 15 to 20 years younger than in the Rest of the world, he. While in Germany, usually only senior citizens buy an S-class, is China the new traders. Especially in the parents ‘ generation, hardly anyone had a driver’s license.

Chinese are crazy about new cars

The Chinese, however, are not only younger, they are also greedy on new cars: While markets such as Germany or the United States are saturated with more than 600 to 700 vehicles per 1000 inhabitants for a long time, have in the middle Kingdom, only 70 out of 1000 citizens own a car. For ten years, Mercedes sold 70 percent of its new cars to people who have never owned before in a car, in the Rest of the world this cut is five to ten percent. Even a quarter of the S-class clientele is one of the first buyers.

No wonder that China has become the single most important market for most manufacturers, Mercedes has sold in the last year of 570,000 cars there. However, given the strong growth and the air problems in the cities, the government shall adopt stringent standards for fuel consumption, and promotes the introduction of alternative drive systems and electric cars. Without regulatory intervention, the country would choke on traffic.

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