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Luxury Cars: Star Attraction at Auto Show
Zou Yi stares longingly at the hand-crafted British Bentley car on display at the China Auto Show in Beijing.

He came all the way from Shenyang in northeastern China to look at the 8.88 million yuan (US$1.07 million) car which will never be more than a dream for him.

"I will have to wait for 1000 years in order to buy such a car with my current salary. However, I believe the car will soon appear on Chinese streets," he said.

The hand-made car is elegantly decorated and reflects traditional British hand-crafted workmanship.

Like Bentley, luxury cars are proving to be the star attractions at the show which runs from June 6 to 13.

Some private entrepreneurs have expressed their desire to own a Bentley, but the auto-maker will choose its customers carefully, said Wilson Ho, marketing director of Bentley Beijing.

The luxury cars from Mercedes-Benz, one of the most successful foreign players on the Chinese car market, also attract stares. The most expensive vehicle on the display costs 1.1 million yuan, but dealers are confident of filling their order books.

"My company now has 24 service centers across China. As the purchases of luxury cars rise, we will build another 22 centers by 2004," said Rose Cheng, senior communications executive for Mercedes-Benz China.

Audi, which has 30 percent of the luxury car market in China, has introduced a new vehicle for successful business people. Experts believe the car will be one of the most popular of the show.

Foreign manufacturers maintain the high growth of China's economy and rising living standards provide a good market for luxury cars.

China has a new rich class with millions of people whose annualincome exceeds 200,000 yuan. In the past three years, many of these people purchased cars worth up to 600,000 yuan, promoting the development of luxury cars.

"It is good that people want to look at luxury cars. The auto industry is a combination of high technology and imagination. People like the famous paintings but they can't afford them. It isthe same situation when we look at Rolls-Royce cars," said He Wenli, an employee of a foreign-funded company.

(Xinhua News Agency June 7, 2002)

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