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Makers turn to hot market to ride out slump

WHILE the global auto industry suffers from cold sales, it is a hot market in China.

Leading auto manufacturers are eager to show new models at the 13th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition as they turn to the world's second largest auto market to ride out the recession and dispel some of the gloom in their home markets.

After China launched stimulus measures, China's vehicle sales rose 5 percent in March to a record high of 1.10 million units, beating the United States as the biggest new car market for a third consecutive month.

Total vehicles sales are set to reach 10 million units this year from 9.7 million units estimated for the United States.

The exhibition, also known as Auto Shanghai 2009, begins today for the media at the Shanghai New International Expo Center in Pudong New Area and will open to the public from Wednesday. The show will end on April 28.

More than 1,500 auto and parts makers from 25 countries and regions will attend the biennial auto show this year with 13 cars making their global debuts.

"Many car makers list Auto Shanghai 2009 as one of their most important international A-class auto shows, if they may skip the other shows," said Wang Xia, an official with the organizer. "Despite the global financial crisis, this reflects the confidence toward China's auto industry as well as future market potential."

With the theme of "Art of Innovation," the show will emphasize greener technologies.

General Motors Corp, struggling to avoid bankruptcy in the US, will debut a production version of the Chevrolet Volt, the world's first extended-range electric vehicle.

The plug-in hybrid, which is likely in China in two years, has an onboard gas engine to create more electricity to keep the car moving for a longer period.

Toyota will unveil the Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle advanced concept car, which uses an updated fuel cell that could improve fuel efficiency by 25 percent.

By adopting compressed hydrogen, the driving range of the model is doubled to 830 kilometers.

Volkswagen AG is presenting the Blue-Motion technologies in its Golf and Lavida sedans.

Its Passat TSI Eco Fuel model is powered by both compressed natural gas and a TSI engine.

Apart from overseas car makers eager to make a splash, domestic firms including Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp and Chery Automobile are tapping home advantage to show new models and new energy technologies from hybrid to electric vehicles.

Ferrari will display its 599 GTB Fiorano equipped with a 12-cylinder engine. Figures


All 11 indoor exhibition halls and nine outdoor temporary halls at the Shanghai New International Expo Center are occupied. They cover an area of more than 170,000 square meters, a 20 percent rise over the last show two years ago.


Featuring a total of 1,500 exhibitors from 25 countries and regions, the show displays all kinds of saloon cars, SUVs, trucks, RVs and special vehicles. It also showcases auto parts and fittings, tires, auto acoustics, inspection and maintenance equipment for cars.


About 13 models will make their global debut at the Auto Shanghai 2009, more than double from the last edition.


It is expected that over 600,000 people will visit the exhibition.


General Motors

Hall E1

GM China will be displaying 37 production and concept vehicles at Auto Shanghai 2009 and these cars will highlight the design, technology and fuel economy leadership of GM and its Chinese joint ventures.

Making its global debut will be a unique show car developed by the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center, GM's automotive engineering and design joint venture. Two vehicles that will draw visitors' attention are the Chevrolet Camaro sports coupe (and star of the new "Transformers" movie) and Chevrolet Volt, the world's first extended-range electric vehicle, which will be coming to China in two years.


Hall W2

Volkswagen will display its complete product line of its imported and Chinese-made vehicles spread over a 3,000-square-meter area.

It will demonstrate the latest Blue-Motion technology to appeal to energy-saving Chinese consumers in the VW Golf and Lavida models. Its Passat Lingyu will make its Chinese debut. All Volkswagen's affiliates will also display models, including Skoda Superb, Audi R8 5.2 FSI quattro sports car and Bently GTC Speed that has a top speed of 320 kilometers per hour.

SAIC Motor

Hall E1

SAIC, the nation's biggest car maker, will show off its improved self-development capability. One model that will be attractive to visitors is the MG6, a FastBack design concept model. Another model to watch out for is the Roewe N1 show car which is said to be very close to being mass produced.


Hall W4

Toyota is showcasing a record number of 50 models at the show, with the main theme focusing on environment, safety and future. Eight new cars and five concept models will be on show.

Toyota will present its latest efforts on environment protection through the FT-EV, which is powered by lithium battery, and the FCHV-adv, a model that uses hydrogen fuel cells and the plug-in hybrid Hi-CT. The single-seat i-Real is also expected to be highly received.


Hall W5

The nation's leading auto maker specializing in self-owned models hopes 32 new autos will help lift its brand image.

Besides its Richi M1 compact as well as the A3 sedan, the car maker will also unveil its first premier sedans, Richi G6 and Richi G5, which will begin domestic sales by 2010. Chery will also present four self-developed electric vehicle and hybrid sedans.


Hall W4

The auto show will be the venue for BMW's world debut of two models, with another two new models being presented for the first time in Asia, as the car maker introduces more innovative concepts and driving technologies.

The BMW 760Li, making its world debut, is the first model to feature a newly developed eight-speed automatic transmission. Boasting a newly developed V8 turbo engine, the BMW X5 M gives unparalleled driving dynamics.


Hall W5

The new Mercedes-Benz S series will add a hybrid version of Mercedes-Benz S400, which will be powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine. The SLK 2L00K edition will also be showcased in Asia for the first time.


Hall W5

Porsche AG yesterday launched its first four-seater Gran Turismo, the Porsche Panamera, in Shanghai.

Featuring a double-clutch gearbox, it will enter markets in Europe, South America and parts of Asia in September, in North America and Australia in October, and in China in early 2010.


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