Cultural differences mean different expectations for what a car should be like.
Us Americans might look at a Buick or a Lincoln and think retirement homes, walkers, and fake teeth chewing on hard candy. But in China, things are a bit different because the luxury cars are seen as a status symbol. The Buick Excelle, known as the Buick Verano here in the States, was the number one passenger car in China for 2011 and minivans like the Buick GL8 luxury MVP, seen as corky cars for soccer moms and defeated dads, are a huge hit among the business class in China.
The thing is, the Buicks and Lincolns that you can buy in China aren’t the same as the nostalgia-invoking granny mobiles that roam US roads. This is because GM and Ford have wised up and tailored the cars to match demands in China, which is the world’s largest auto market. While Americans love thickly padded leather seats and don’t care as much for the fit and finish of the interior, the Chinese see this as sloppy. This means that cars sent oversees get tighter fitting interiors and less padding in the seats. China also hates the new car smell, so carbon sheets are placed inside Buicks and Lincolns destined to leap over the Great Wall of China ensuring that the cars arrive smell-free.
Cars bound for China also get more attention placed on the back seat since many business people in the country like being driven by personal drivers. These changes help Buick and Lincoln, companies that might as well be irrelevant here in the US, survive by catering to a market with more purchasing power.