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Beijing Auto Show Closes with Record Turnout
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The Beijing auto exhibition 2006 closed Monday with a record turnout of almost 600,000 visitors in 10 days, the organizers said.

Nearly 550,000 people visited the main venue at the China International Exhibition Center, while another 50,000 visited the auto parts show at the National Agricultural Exhibition Center.

The event, which has been held biennially since 1990, also drew 6,376 journalists, including 1,135 from outside China.

Increasing International Influence

The rising importance of the Beijing auto show was reflected by the unprecedented presence of major international carmakers.

More than 1,500 businesses from over 20 countries and regions, including big names in the international auto industries, were represented.

Foreign carmakers brought two-thirds of the 572 cars to the show. Ten models, including Toyota's Corolla and Maybach's ultra-luxury 62S, made their global debuts in Beijing.

After years of dynamic growth, China is the world's second largest auto market after the United States.

Both its production and sales of automobiles are expected to surpass seven million this year, according to the latest estimate of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Though that is still less than half of the 16.5 million cars expected to be sold in the United States, China could overtake the U.S. as the world's largest carmaker in 10 years, Nick Reilly, General Motors Asia and Pacific head, told a Detroit newspaper. 

Chinese Brands Steals the Show

This year's Beijing auto show also saw an impressive turnout of home-grown brands, a reflection of their growing strength in the fast expanding auto market.

According to the organizers, Chinese brands accounted for one third of the vehicles on show, the most in the history of the event.

FAW, which produced China's first truck and car in the 1950s, brought 29 vehicles, including 19 of its joint venture brand partners such as Volkswagen and Toyota, and 10 of its own.

The most eye-catching is a new Red Flag (Hongqi) model dubbed HQ3. Using a 4.3 liter engine, it takes only 7.3 seconds for HQ3 to accelerate to 100 kilometers per hour.

The car is also equipped with a sophisticated infrared night vision system that can detect obstacles from 250 meters away.

Dongfeng Motor, another major Chinese manufacturer, came with 15 models, half of them Dongfeng's own brands. They include a full range of cars, multi-purpose vehicles, small utility vehicles, racing cars and hybrid sedans.

Geely, a minor Chinese carmaker which recently entered into agreement with the Manganese Bronze Holdings Plc. of the United Kingdom to produce London's iconic black cabs, is displaying over a dozen new models.

Also on show is Geely's first concept car, and another from its subsidiary, Shanghai Maple Automobile.

Other Chinese carmakers, the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., Great Wall, Chery and others all brought their Chinese brand models.

Chinese brands account for about a quarter of China's auto sales. While consolidating their share in low-end products, they are moving into more lucrative markets dominated by foreign carmakers.

(Xinhua News Agency November 28, 2006)

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