Volkswagen AG may retake the title of China's biggest overseas auto maker from General Motors Corp this year as new models help the German company grow four times faster than its US rival.
Volkswagen started building five new or revamped models in the country in the first quarter. It plans to display another five at the Beijing Auto Show, which starts on Sunday. The tally includes three cars making global debuts, the most for any overseas exhibitor. GM, which started making four new models in China in the first quarter, plans to unveil one car at the show.
The Santana Vista, a new version of China's bestselling car, helped Volkswagen boost first-quarter sales 33 percent in the world's second-largest auto market. Competition from Volkswagen, Toyota Motor Corp and Ford Motor Co held sales growth to 7.4 percent for GM, which is counting on China as the US market shrinks.
"Volkswagen has a chance to surpass GM in total vehicle sales in China this year," Li Chunbo, an analyst with CITIC Securities Co in Beijing, told Bloomberg News. "GM is facing tremendous pressure in bringing the right model to China."
Volkswagen has accelerated the introduction of new models in China since 2005 when GM overtook the company.
(Shanghai Daily April 18, 2008)