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Friday, April 18, 2008

A Look at the Upcoming ’08 Beijing Int’l Auto Exhibition

Beijing is really going all out this year. Not only will they be hosting the Olympics, the metropolis will also be the stage for one of the biggest auto-shows this year – the 2008 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition. It is set for next week, between April 20 and 28. The auto-show is expected to be grand, and a large number of foreign automakers have already confirmed that they will not miss the exhibition for the world. Their presence is not only expected because China is said to be in the running for the spot as the “#1 Automotive Market” in the world, but because they are aiming to offset the decline of sales during the first quarter of this year.

An article in CHINAdaily.com cites:

Foreign auto makers will display a large number of new models at the Beijing auto show next week, hoping the booming market in China will offset sales slumps elsewhere in the world.

Big global names saw their sales growth far outpace the industry average in China, where passenger car sales rose 20 percent to 1.85 million in the first quarter.

But new vehicle sales in the United States hit a 15-year low as consumers held back due to concerns about soaring oil prices and the spreading credit crisis.

The biennial Beijing auto show has attracted all the world's major auto makers - including General Motors, BMW, Toyota and Honda - and none of the big names will be absent, the organizers said.

The Exhibition is expected to be at par with the recent ’08 NAIAS in scale, but it is already fashioning out to be a huge success. Since the second quarter has just begun, several automakers are planning on unveiling several new models that will be coming out this year. Some will exhibit a record number of cars, while others are there for the simple reason that they saw a big rise in car sales in China during the past months and would want to take advantage of the trend. And if this trend continues, it wouldn’t take long before China becomes the world’s largest auto-market. In fact, Kevin Wale, the president of GM in China has made a bold prediction, saying that, “China will be the world's largest auto market before 2020”. It would seem that India is not the only country that’s pretty much interested in foreign markets, as can be seen in the recent acquisition of Tata Motors of British marques, Land Rover and Jaguar.

CHINAdaily.com provides a great overview of what people can expect from the 2008 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, and here it is:

Ford Motor Co plans to show 55 vehicles in its 5,500-square-meter exhibition space, the largest for a single company in the history of the auto show.

Volkswagen AG will wheel in a record 31 vehicles at the biggest event of the Chinese automotive industry. The largest European auto maker will debut two sedans tailor-made for the Chinese market and showcase the highly anticipated Passat CC sedan and Tiguan sport-utility vehicle for the first time in China.

German luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz, which saw its first-quarter sales soar 40 percent in China, nearly four times the global rise, will show 33 vehicles, including the super luxury Maybach and a particularly clean diesel hybrid model.

That probably is just the tip of the iceberg. And if all goes well, and sales in the People’s Republic are off the charts, expect the biennial auto-show to become an annual thing. This will definitely be the case if an answer to the rising cost of fuel is not found, and if the sales in the US are still in the dumps.