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Sales of Foreign Luxury Cars Run at Full Throttle in China
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Sales of luxury cars are booming in China and the world's top luxury automakers see China as an increasingly important market.


At the ongoing Beijing Auto Show, organizers set aside 4,000 square meter of space for luxury cars, where top brands, including Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Rolls-Royce and Spyker, are showcasing their new models.


On the second day of the show, a Rolls-Royce Phantom on display was bought for 6.6 million yuan (825,000 U.S. dollars) and a Bentley Arnage Mulliner sold for 6.48 million yuan, the Beijing Morning Post reported Tuesday.


Last year Bentley sold 64 cars on Chinese mainland market, 30 of which were Bentley Arnage models, with the minimum price 3.88 million yuan.


Statistics show that Land Rover, Jaguar and BMW also experienced surging sales in China in 2005. Jaguar said that sales in China rose by 220 percent in 2005 over the previous year. Land Rover sold 1,415 vehicles in the Chinese market, up 107 percent year on year.


Meanwhile, China has become the fastest growing market for BMW, which sold 23,595 cars in the country, up 52.4 percent.


China imports more than 100,000 cars every year, most of which are cost more than US$40,000, according to customs figures.


Imports reached 147,000 cars, valued at US$4.84 billion, for the first eight months this year, up 56.1 percent and 71.8 percent respectively from the same period of 2005. The rise in unit price shows that luxury cars are now a key import sector.


Analysts say every year top brands, like Rolls-Royce and Bentley, sell 20 percent of their output in Asia, with China being the most buoyant market.


Some luxury automakers, including Daimler Chrysler, BMW, Audi and Volvo, have set up assembly lines in the country in order to take advantage of lower production costs.


Volvo CEO Fredrik Arp predicts that five years from now the Chinese market for luxury cars will develop to the point that sales will be growing at an annual average rate of 60 percent.


Sales of luxury sports cars are booming in China and the country is expected to be Ferrari's fifth or sixth largest market within three to five years, said Mirko Pietro Bordiga, general manager of Ferrari China.


It is estimated that only five percent of the Chinese can currently afford private cars, but that translates into 65 million people given the huge population.


Vehicle sales are expected to reach seven million in 2006, including four million sedans and 320,000 luxury vehicles.


(Xinhua News Agency November 22, 2006)


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