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Global gaze on record China sales
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China's automakers have been busy catering to high demand, especially from small-car buyers.
China's automakers have been busy catering to high demand, especially from small-car buyers. [China Daily]

Luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz is set to regale Chinese audiences with a double breakthrough - a record-high number of premieres along with an impressive lineup of 35 models - at Auto Shanghai 2009.

"The Shanghai auto show has become the largest auto show for Mercedes-Benz globally, and only comparable to Frankfurt Motor Show," said Klaus Maier, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz (China) Ltd.

Mercedes-Benz's Shanghai presentation includes four world premieres, five Asia debuts and four first-time releases in China, along with a fleet of compelling cars from all brands in Mercedes family - Mercedes-Benz, Maybach, Smart and Mercedes-AMG.

Its rival BMW will unveil two world debuts, three Asian premieres and one sports model's first drive into China.

Volkswagen, long among the top two automakers in China through its joint ventures, will have also a large presence in keeping with its market status.

"Together with Shanghai Volkswagen and FAW Volkswagen, Volkswagen Group brings all of our series and latest technologies to the show," said Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG. "Our two brand-new models will meet Chinese consumers - the sixth-generation Golf and Passat New Lingyu."

"Volkswagen Group has always been confident in China's automobile market. In this year as well next we will invest $1 billion in China on new technologies, the introduction of new products, brand building and upgrading sales channels and services."

The Big Three US carmakers - most notably General Motors and Chrysler, which are on the edge of bankruptcy - still promise their usual exhibition scale and standards at the Shanghai auto gathering.

Chrysler will exhibit its nine Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge models, providing Chinese consumers choices in the sedan, MPV, SUV and crossover segments.

The GM China family will have 37 vehicles on display - 33 from SAIC-GM and four from SAIC-GM-Wuling.

"Our production and concept models will represent all five brands offered by our Chinese joint ventures," said Kevin Wale, president and managing director of GM China.

"GM has made a long-term commitment to China. Despite the challenges that GM and our industry now face, we believe our best years are ahead of us. One look at the GM China family's lineup on display at the Shanghai auto show will convince even the most hardened skeptics."

The company announced earlier this month that it plans to double its annual sales in China over the next five years to 2 million units.

Japan's Toyota Motor Corp is to display around 50 vehicles in a 4,500 sq m area jointly with its partners in China, which is the group's most aggressive move in a China motor show.

The company said its presentation illustrates Toyota's plans to make additional investment in the Chinese market.

Toyota's China sales grew by 17 percent to 585,000 vehicles last year from 2007. The carmaker runs car joint ventures with China's FAW Corp and Guangzhou Automobile Corp.

(China Daily April 20, 2009)

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