The 2006 Beijing automotive exhibition opening at the weekend has seen an unprecedented presence of China's home-grown brands, a reflection of their growing strength in one of the world's fastest expanding auto markets.
According to the organizers, Chinese brands are accounting for one thirds of the 572 vehicles on show at the China International Exhibition Center and the National Agricultural Exhibition Center.
This is an unprecedented share in the history of the event, which has been held every two years since 1990.
FAW, which produced China's first truck and car in the 1950s, brought 29 vehicles, including 19 using brands of its joint venture partners such as Volkswagen and Toyota, and 10 using its own brands.
The most eye-catching of them is a new Red Flag (Hongqi) model dubbed HQ3. Using a 4.3 litter 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 could detect obstacles from 250 meters away.
Dongfeng Motor, another major Chinese carmaker, came with 15 models. Half of these models are using Dongfeng's own brands. They include a full range of cars, multi-purpose vehicles, small utility vehicles, race 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 in China, is displaying over a dozen new models.
Also on show is Geely's first concept car, and another from its subsidy, the Shanghai Maple Automobile.
Other Chinese carmakers, the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp, Great Wall, Chery and others all brought their Chinese brand models.
Chinese brands currently account for about one quarter of China's auto sales. While consolidating their shares in low-end products, they are moving into more lucrative markets now dominated by foreign carmakers.
After years of dynamic growth, China now 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.
(Xinhua News Agency November 19, 2006)