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September 19, 2009

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Chengdu Motor Show ready to kick off

CAR makers made final preparations for the Chengdu Motor Show 2009 yesterday as they took the nation's third-largest auto show as a gateway to further drive into central and west China.

With the theme "Road to China's West," more than 500 models from 200 auto makers will be presented at the show. It will open to the public from today to next Friday. About 400,000 visitors are expected to attend.

Bjoern Hauber, general manager for sales and marketing of Mercedes-Benz (China), unveiled the new E-Class coupe and three AMG models at the show. It will be the first time the German luxury car maker will exhibit all its four brands in Chengdu.

"Sales growth in Chengdu's passenger car market is roughly 60 percent," Hauber said. "We can't underline much more how important the market is for us going forward."

Sales in central and west China, including Sichuan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region accounted for 15 percent of Mercedes-Benz's total sales, contributing to its 50 percent sales jump in the first eight months.

Central and west China markets fueled the country's rapidly improving auto industry this year as the nation's "Going West" policy boosted the economy in these areas. These markets were also less impacted by the global financial crisis.

An auto industry report from auto research firm Ipsos showed that first-half car sales in west and central China rose 33 percent, outpacing a 22 percent increase in the industry nationwide.

Inland markets also play an important role for domestic car makers to market self-branded models.

"Foreign brands don't have any advantage in second-tier cities, giving us more room to develop the market," said Chen Ming, a regional sales manager of Geely Automobile.

General Motors gave a sneak peak at its new SRX luxury sport-utility vehicle at the show.

Benz's Hauber said car makers were enthusiastic about launching SUV models in Chengdu, which reflected the different tastes and preferences in various markets around the country.

"China is too big to be treated as one market," he added.


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