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Global car giants bet heavily on China
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Yale Zhang, director of Greater China Vehicle Forecasts for US consultancy CSM Worldwide Corp, said: "The Chinese vehicle market keeps growing and global automakers have to strengthen efforts here to boost sales. Otherwise, where can they go?"

Zhang predicted that vehicle sales in China would increase by 7 percent this year and 6 percent in 2009.

A model stands next to a car at the 6th Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, November 18, 2008. [Xinhua]
A model stands next to a car at the 6th Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, November 18, 2008. [Xinhua]

Winfried Vahland, president of Volkswagen Group China, said although growth of the Chinese vehicle market this year is "not big, we are confident of the industry growth as well as our company's growth in China in coming years".

The German carmaker is increasing spending on marketing "especially in this situation, to support the Chinese government's efforts on consumption stimulation," Vahland said.

Sasaki Akira, senior managing director of Toyota Motor, said: "The auto industry is facing severe challenges from the global financial turmoil However, we believe China's vehicle market has potential to keep growth and we will continue to launch new products here."

Akira said the Japanese carmaker's China sales are expected to jump 20 percent to 600,000 vehicles this year.

"The slowdown is temporary. And we believe the premier auto market will develop faster than the overall market and sales will continue to grow. For a long-term consideration, it's time to invest in the market to stimulate sales," said Bjoern Hauber, general manager of sales and marketing with Mercedes-Benz China Ltd.

Peter Schwarzenbauer, member of the board of Audi AG, told China Daily that Audi is planning to establish a China branch in Beijing to reinforce local sourcing, and research and development.

The German luxury sedan maker currently does business in China through a sales division under its joint venture with China's FAW Group.

"The financial crisis and slowdown of China's auto industry won't make us reduce production or sales targets in China. Instead, we are considering extending our product portfolio from 20 to 40," Schwarzenbauer said.

(China Daily November 20, 2008)

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