The Truth About Cars » Beijing Auto Show The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 16 Apr 2014 05:18:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Beijing Auto Show Citroën Bestows First Premium DS Model Upon China Wed, 25 Dec 2013 00:53:35 +0000 2014 Citroën DS 5LS 04
Unveiled at a special event in Paris last week, Citroën’s DS 5LS is the French automaker’s first premium variant of the DS sub-brand. Don’t expect to park this one at the Louvre, however; the DS 5LS is destined solely for the Chinese market.

The 5LS will be the second DS model built at Citroën’s new factory in Shenzhen after the DS5, and will be followed by a China-exclusive SUV and the new DS3 later on in 2014, as well as a larger executive sedan based on the DS9 concept in 2015.

Unlike its hot-hatch brethren, the traditional sedan was made with the Chinese market (and German competitors, such as the Audi A3 Saloon and Mercedes-Benz CLA) in mind. Thus, it measures 185 inches with a 106-inch wheelbase — perfect for party members being chauffeured from Bejing to Macau for a bit of gambling — has a 16-cubic foot trunk, and the interior is filled with opulent materials and high-tech goodies including reversing camera, massaging seats, and air purification.

Under the hood, the front wheels will be driven by either a 1.6-liter turbo providing around 160 to 200 horsepower or a 132-horsepower VTi, with power directed by a six-speed automatic transmission in the 1.6-liter options.

The DS sub-brand aims to move 200,000 units by 2015, along with bringing its home factory up to full capacity. Fifty DS Stores are also planned to open in the largest cities in China in an effort to drive more interest in the 5LS and subsequent models.

The 5LS will make its home market debut during the 2014 Beijing Auto Show this coming April.

2014 Citroën DS 5LS 01 2014 Citroën DS 5LS 02 2014 Citroën DS 5LS 03 2014 Citroën DS 5LS 04 ]]> 8
Gleanings Of The 2010 Beijing Auto Show: Breasts Draw Reprimand, Ears Cool Sun, 29 Apr 2012 23:30:35 +0000

Beijing authorities have slapped organizers of the 2012 Beijing Auto Show with a “serious reprimand” for featuring scantily-clad models.

Beijing’s Capital Ethics Development Office said that the revealing clothing of some models at the 2012 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition has had a “negative social impact,” the state-owned news agency Xinhua reports.  The ethics office criticized the “vulgar publicity” surrounding the models.

Says the government wire:

“The statement is believed to be referring to several widely forwarded photos of Gan Lulu, a controversial Internet celebrity, and Li Yingzhi, a BMW model, wearing a deep v-cut top and a skimpy diamond-studded dress, respectively.”

Online commenters labeled the event as “a breast exhibition with many famous cars.”

In fulfilling its reporting duty, the state-owned news agency runs a picture gallery with high-res examples of the most vulgar pictures.

No reprimand was issued for the showing of protruding ears.



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Gleanings Of The 2012 Beijing Auto Show: Seat Introduces Blondes On A Stick Fri, 27 Apr 2012 02:33:27 +0000 Volkswagen’s SEAT has been a bit luckless recently. The victim of the Mediterranean malaise seeks to improve its odds by exporting cars to China. Lacking new models to introduce, Seat showcases a new culinary delight: Blondes on a stick.
The Blondes are a big attraction in China, where all women have black hair.

The export cars are the usual Leon, Ibiza and Alhambra cars.

Seat better put the blonde culinary delights in every showroom to attract customer traffic, because the cars will be a hard sell. There is a hefty tax on import cars.

This does not hurt upscale makes, in the contrary. Imported mass market cars have a rough time competing against domestically made cars.

2012 Beijing Auto Show – Seat. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 2012 Beijing Auto Show – Seat. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 2012 Beijing Auto Show – Seat. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 2012 Beijing Auto Show – Seat. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 2012 Beijing Auto Show – Seat. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 2012 Beijing Auto Show – Seat. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 2012 Beijing Auto Show – Seat. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail


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Gleanings Of The 2012 Beijing Auto Show: Car Blogging With Chinese Characteristics Thu, 26 Apr 2012 22:51:10 +0000

When it comes to car blogging, China has long bypassed the rest of the world.  Even much larger sites than TTAC look like midgets compared to the Chinese giants. Nothing shows that more drastically than the Beijing Auto Show.

TTAC and the Detroit Bureau may be some of the few American blogs that sent in-the-flesh reporters to Beijing. Chinese blogs dispatch them by the truckload. An outdoor section of the Beijing Auto Show is dubbed “Blogger’s Alley.”  Here, major Chinese car blogs  such as have their own multi-story buildings.

Newsrooms of the blogs have been transplanted to the show. Newsmaking is powered by instant coffee and carbonated drinks. At least that one we all have in common

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Gleanings Of The 2012 Beijing Auto Show: Toyota Open To Sub-Brand Suggestions Thu, 26 Apr 2012 21:58:07 +0000

Toyota will launch a domestically produced plug-in hybrid in China before the year is over and will follow with EVs once certification is completed, said Dong Changzheng, executive vice president of Toyota Motor (China) Investment Co., to a small group of reporters at the Beijing Auto Show. The cars will be marketed under a yet to be announced “Chinese” brand.

Toyota had been one of the last holdouts after the Chinese government had strongly suggested that each joint venture creates a new brand with Chinese characteristics. Privately, executives at Toyota had questioned the wisdom  of these “sub-brands” as they are called in China. Allegedly, the idea behind these sub-brands is to make cars cheaper. My contacts convincingly argued that a new brand does not lower the price of the car. Investments in branding, dealerships, support  and management can raise the price of the car.

Not so with EVs. China will limit its generous subsidies not only to made-in-China PHVs and EVs, the cars also must be sold under a “Chinese” brand. This “Chinese” brand can be owned by a joint venture. Toyota bows to fiscal realities and will start a Chinese “sub-brand.”

“Or two,” quipped a Toyota executive at the show, in reference to Toyota’s two joint Chinese ventures. Toyota cooperates with FAW in the north and Guangzhou Auto in the south, and both will require separate sub-brands.

Toyota demonstrated its opening to Chinese ideas in the decoration of its booth at the Beijing Auto Show. The entrance to the VIP section looks like what I called “a Chinese KTV.”

“Or maybe a Chinese restaurant,” the helpful Toyota executive suggested.

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Gleanings Of The 2012 Beijing Auto Show: Victimized Media Thu, 26 Apr 2012 19:11:54 +0000

Sometimes, journalists are in the pockets of people. This time, people are in the pockets of journalists: More than 40 theft cases were reported in the first hours of the 2012 Beijing Auto Show.

Pricy equipment was stolen at an alarming rate, reports Global Times. High on the target list of show-going pickpockets: High-end camera lenses that fetch a high price on the used market.

“The first two days of Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, which opened Monday, were reserved for members of the media, with the public being admitted from today until May 2,“ says Global Times. Nevertheless, around 40,000 people showed up on the first day, the paper figures. We have first-hand confirmation that the show was mobbed, and we doubt that the majority was working media.

Says Global Times: “Some attendees have accused the expo of having lax security, which is unable to cope with the crowds, and media have reported that passes for the expo are easily available from scalpers.”

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2012 Beijing Auto Show: Capture The Real Red Flag Tue, 24 Apr 2012 11:24:19 +0000

So today The Tycho,  proprietor of Carnewschina and expert on Mao-era-revival cars, intercepts me at the show and says: “You did it all wrong! You talked about the H7, but showed the L7!”

“I beg your pardon?”

It turns out he was right as usual. In my piece on the Red Flag car, the wrong pictures were added to the wrong text. Corrected. As a make-good, here the ultimate L7/H7 pictorial.

This is the L7. Based on a Landcruiser chassis. And with the full frontal perspective, as demanded by Comrade Karesh.

For people who are more into bootie.

Rims with Mao-era inset.

This is the H7. This one truly based on a Toyota Crown.

From the side.

Even this car will save the planet – if a large enough battery is ever found. And a substation to go with it.

Revolutionary hood ornament.


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2012 Beijing Auto Show: Fiat Viaggio Mon, 23 Apr 2012 22:37:12 +0000  

[INSERT JUVENILE QUIP ABOUT THIS CAR'S NAME AND HOW MUCH IT SOUNDS LIKE ANATOMY]. Just kidding. We’re not that silly. Here’s a look at the Fiat Viaggio aka the Dodge Dart for China.

The made-in-China sedan will come with one of two 1.4L turbocharged Fiat engines, with 120 or 150 horsepower. A 5-speed manual or a dual-clutch automatic will be offered, with production starting in July. The Viaggio is set for a Q3 2012 launch.

Fiat Viaggio. Photo courtesy Fiat. 2012 Beijing Auto Show - Fiat Viaggio. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 2012 Beijing Auto Show - Fiat Viaggio-2 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Fiat Viaggio. Photo courtesy Fiat. 2064779742561203964 19486356691794111079 1709515849371387039 14193897241778677552 999946818861018637 531459976341328105


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Girls Of The 2012 Beijing Auto Show: I’m All Ears Mon, 23 Apr 2012 18:22:48 +0000

We met at the Volkswagen booth. Ready for take-off.

She is very popular.

Say uncle.

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2012 Beijing Auto Show: Not So Mellow Yellow Mon, 23 Apr 2012 18:16:43 +0000 Audi’s baby-SUV Q3, in “Jinlong Yufeng” dress. Which means “Golden Dragon in the Wind,” or so I am told.

Turbocharged 2.5-liter engine with 306hp.

2012 Beijing Auto Show - Audi Q3/. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 2012 Beijing Auto Show - Audi Q3/. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 3
2012 Beijing Auto Show: Red Flag, Based On Meatball Mon, 23 Apr 2012 18:00:01 +0000 Revival of the venerable “Red Flag”: The Hongqi L7.

It harkens back to the Mao era. Ironically, a the “red” car sits on a Toyota Landcruiser chassis.

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2012 Beijing Auto Show: What A Dragon Mon, 23 Apr 2012 17:36:48 +0000

The Jeep was the first American car made in China through a joint venture. Somewhere along the way, Jeep lost it. Jeep is trying to get its moxie back with the “Dragon” design concept.It is based on a China-market Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, black with bronze-gold details. 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels with 35-inch off-road tires.

Chinese dragon character side badge and wheel center caps.

2012 Beijing Auto Show - Jeep. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 2012 Beijing Auto Show - Jeep. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 2012 Beijing Auto Show - Jeep. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 8
2012 Beijing Auto Show: Chrysler Knows Its Target Group Mon, 23 Apr 2012 17:25:36 +0000 This time truly imported from Detroit: The Chrysler 300 Ruyi. A 300C, adapted to Chinese tastes. Still called a concept.



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2012 Beijing Auto Show: Porsche Cayenne GTS Mon, 23 Apr 2012 16:59:33 +0000 Not only does the Volkswagen Group dominate China by market share, it also has its own hall at the Beijing Auto Show.

The hall houses VW’s assortment of brands, including Porsche.

Today, Porsche unveiled the Cayenne GTS. It is the perfect SUV for SUV-crazed China: Over-motorized, over the top, overpriced.

It mates a slightly more powerful version of the non-turbo V8 from the Cayenne S with the styling of the Turbo. Looks like same old.

This man is responsible for the show at Porsche.

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2012 Beijing Auto Show: Lamborghini Unveils 600 hp Aurochs Mon, 23 Apr 2012 16:36:47 +0000

So they finally took the wraps off the long anticipated and already much hated Urus, the SUV concept from Lamborghini.

Volkswagen’s token Italian, Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann, says that Urus is the “ancestor of today’s fighting bull.”  Wikipedia says it’s an aurochs. An anonymous contributor helpfully added today that it is an SUV from Lamborghini.

Winkelmann is the perfect Lamborghini CEO: Born in Berlin, schooled in Rome, a reserve lieutenant of the German army, speaks English with an Italian accent. He is also Volkswagen’s best looking and best dressed CEO. Not that he has much competition there.

Winkelmann calls the Urus “fast, strong, courageous, in one word – invincible.”

The car is 1.66 meters low, has a high ground clearance, which is adjustable.

Carbon fiber helps reduce the weight of the car by 100kg.

According to Winkelmann, 600hp offer “stunning acceleration.” Of course, the bull is “best in class in CO2 emissions.”

This car is not released to production yet, but Winkelmann knows that it will sell worldwide “an average of 3,000 times.” Whatever that may mean.

The crowd loves the aurochs. However the crowd is from China and as such also digs style aberrations like a melange of Greek, Baroque and Arabian Nights. Or steamed toads.

Winkelmann basks in the admiration.

I think there will be a production model next year when the auto show goes to Shanghai.

I am trying to gauge reaction. I do not have time for many man on the street interviews. Instead, I ask an expert, a Lamborghini product specialist: “Do you think this will be a hit elsewhere than in China?”

She does not mince words.

Beijing Auto Show 2012 - Lamborghini Urus. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Beijing Auto Show 2012 - Lamborghini Urus. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Beijing Auto Show 2012 - Lamborghini Urus. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Beijing Auto Show 2012 - Lamborghini Urus. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Beijing Auto Show 2012 - Lamborghini Urus. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Beijing Auto Show 2012 - Lamborghini Urus --08 Beijing Auto Show 2012 - Lamborghini Urus. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Beijing Auto Show 2012 - Lamborghini Urus. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Beijing Auto Show 2012 - Lamborghini Urus. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Beijing Auto Show 2012 - Lamborghini Urus. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Beijing Auto Show 2012 - Lamborghini Urus. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Beijing Auto Show 2012 - Lamborghini Urus. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Beijing Auto Show 2012 - Lamborghini Urus. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Beijing Auto Show 2012 - Lamborghini Aventator. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Beijing Auto Show 2012 - Lamborghini Urus. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 18
2012 Beijing Auto Show: Press Causes Monster Traffic Jam Mon, 23 Apr 2012 13:56:01 +0000 First media day at the Beijing Auto Show. Accredited working press only. Half of Beijing must be accredited, and the other half must be on their way to China International Exhibition Center (New Venue) – that’s what it’s called, no joke – in order to finagle one of those hard to get press passes.

The city had strongly suggested leaving the auto at home and instead to take the subway to the auto show. Who are they kidding? A traffic jam on media days?

They were not kidding. Starting out at 7am from downtown to beat the masses did not help. I’m stuck, and this policeman is worried.

This taxidriver loves it: “Me on clock. Me big money.” The passenger is still smiling. Hours later …

… we are still stuck. They are bringing in accredited media by the busload. I receive a nervous phone call from a PR manager:

“Did they reschedule our press conference?”


“Nobody is here!”

“Of course not. They are all here, stuck in traffic.”

Police is helpless.

Locals offer their services. This taxi can and will take the sidewalk for a slight surcharge.

Several hours later, we finally made it. Just a few hours more, standing in line.

The reporters of a small blog from Hubei Province celebrate the successful issuance of press passes.  Let’s go cover the show!

Actually, let’s eat first. It’s lunch time already.

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2012 Beijing Auto Show Preview: Ni Hao From China’s Capital Mon, 23 Apr 2012 12:30:43 +0000

Our man Bertel Schmitt is en route, all set to cover the Beijing Auto Show for the next two days. By our count, there are over 70 debuts, with many of them being Chinese market products; concept cars, older vehicles re-issued and manufactured in Chinese JV factories and obscure concept cars. A complete list, with a brief description can be read at for anyone really interested in the Brilliance Jinbei Large Sea Lion Camper or the HaiMa Yao.

Audi: Audi has two big debuts. The RS Q3 muscle-crossover (which is not an obscure genre of pornography) and the A6L, a favorite of Chinese government officials.

BMW: A topless version of the i8 electric supercar will be revealed, but the big news is the 3-Series long wheelbase. These long wheelbase sedans are essential for China, where having a driver is a mark of status.

Brilliance: Chinese automaker Brilliance debuts their Jinbei Large Sea Lion Camper concept. I have no idea what this is, but it is already my pick of the show.

Citroën: The beautiful DS Numero 9 is unveiled.

Eterniti: Remember this? The mysterious SUV upstart will show off a production-ready product.

Fiat: The Dodge Dart based Viaggio will be revealed, while we anxiously await for a puerile, pun-infested headline from Jalopnik that will be borderline misogynistic.

Geely: Chinese automaker Geely will show a revised version of the Gleagle McCar, which sounds vaguely like a reference to McDonalds and the Ku Klux Klan.

Lamborghini: Lamborghini will debut their new SUV, said to be named the “Urus”. Observers are suggesting that this may set in motion the opening of the seven seals as prophesised in the Book of Revelations, bringing about an apocalyptic event said to occur at the Urus long lead launch at the Hotel-Du-Cap-Eden-Roc. Others say that it just means that Lamborghini is looking for more customers in emerging markets.

Mercedes-Benz: The CLA Concept Style Coupe will preview the look of a sub C-Class model, confusingly dubbed the CLA. The G63 and G65 AMG will also debut, just in time for Kim Kardashian to drive one on the newest season of her nebulous reality show.

Porsche: With 420 horsepower and a lowered stance, the Cayenne GTS really is just another minutely different special edition of an existing product.

SEAT: The Ibiza Cupra is a small, performance-oriented hatchback with a 178-horsepower 1.4L engine. It ticks all of our boxes and will never come to North America.


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Ghosn’s Two Front China Offensive Fri, 13 Apr 2012 17:34:17 +0000 The Nikkei [sub] must have been having intimate chats with sources high up in Nissan’s tower at the Yokohama waterfront again.

Prematurely perturbing press people at Nissan, the Tokyo wire reports that a new factory will be constructed in China, and that Infiniti cars will be built at yet another factory in China. In the meantime, Reuters cultivated sources at Renault and says that Renault will finally finalize a deal to produce cars in China.

According to The Nikkei [sub], Nissan will build its long-rumored plant in China’s port city of Dalian. It will be Nissan’s fourth Chinese plant in a joint venture with Dongfeng.

Also according to The Nikkei [sub], Nissan will begin the long-rumored production of  Infinitis in China. It will not make them in Dalian as the rumor went, but at the current Xiangyang plant in Hubei Province. Says the Nikkei:

“The Xiangyang plant produces the Teana mainstay midsize sedan. The Infinitis it makes will be similar in size to the Teana, enabling capital investment to be held down.”

Reuters meanwhile heard in Paris that Renault and Dongfeng have finalized a framework agreement on their long-rumored joint venture. This deal has been long in the works, but changing Chinese rules that are less welcoming to investments by foreign automakers added extra urgency. “We just made the window,” Reuter’s source said. Currently, Renaults are only imported to China. Says Reuters:

“Renault’s 80 Chinese sales outlets sold just over 24,000 imported vehicles last year, the bulk of them Korean-made Koleos SUVs.”

All of this is highly unofficial, but likewise highly likely. Renault’s and Nissan’s double-CEO Carlos Ghosn will come to Beijing for the auto show  on April 23. Full court press events are planned, and Ghosn will have lots to talk about.

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Porsche Shows New GTS In Beijing Tue, 10 Apr 2012 13:30:42 +0000 China is Porsche’s second largest market (behind the U.S.) and most of the Porsches shipped to the Middle Kingdom are Cayennes. No wonder that Porsche will choose the upcoming Beijing Auto Show to present a successor to its brutish GTS.

The 2013 Cayenne GTS received the Porsche-typical Modellpflege (model ministration): A little more of everything. It’s V8 powerplant now has 20 horses more for a total of 420 hp. The chassis is more tautly tuned. Forget a stick in the new GTS, it will come with an eight-speed Tip-tronic S with integrated auto start/stop function for when you get stuck in the Beijing traffic mayhem.

The Cayenne GTS will come to market in July 2012 with a price tag in Germany of €90,774 including value-added tax. Price in China? Don’t ask.

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Lamborghinis Invade China In Record Numbers Thu, 08 Jul 2010 07:46:17 +0000

Where would the automotive world be without China. From Daimler to Volkswagen, all send daily prayers east, in the general direction of the Middle Kingdom. (No much aiming precision is needed. It’s a big country.) Even Lamborghini has high expectations. This year, they will sell record numbers of Lambos to China.

About 100 of them, says Gasgoo, citing “a source from Italian luxury sports-car maker Lamborghini.”

Lamborghini is to Audi what Bugatti is to Volkswagen: Expensive toys and ego-boosters, not necessarily what they would call volume models. In 2009, they sold a breathtaking 80 units to Chinese buyers, each at a price of $400,000. At the Beijing auto show, Lamborghini’s CEO Stephan Winkelmann  predicted that China will become one of Lamborghini’s top five markets “very soon,” possibly as early as 2011.

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China To Get Handsome Buick GL8 MPV. And The U.S.? Tue, 18 May 2010 12:25:02 +0000

At the Beijing Auto Show, they had a fine-looking and well-appointed Buick MPV, called the “Business Concept” (shown above.) I gave it no mention. After all, who cares about a concept MPV that will never see the light? Big mistake, Schmitt: It will see the light faster that I thought, namely by the end of the year.

In China, it will take over as the latest generation of the Buick GL8, replacing a definitely blander predecessor (think Pontiac Montana or Buick Terrazza.) The first gen GL8 was a pioneering venture for Shanghai-GM. It was designed in partnership between SAIC and GM as a “China only” model, albeit with heavy input from GM. The GL8 quickly became the business MPV to have amongst companies that had to pick up clients at the airport (a Chinese tradition.) The GL8 did a lot to Buick China sales.

According to China Car Times, the new GL8 will be powered by a new 2.4L engine from the Lacrosse and Regal, or a new 3.0L V6 from Opel’s HFV6 range. A mild hybrid is possible. Camouflaged pre-production models have already been spotted in China (they are kind of obvious.) If you mentally (or photoshopally) remove the camo, it won’t look much different than the “Concept” above.

The MPV was developed in China by the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC), a design and engineering joint venture between General Motors and SAIC. No word on a U.S. appearance.

If a U.S. model would look half as good as what I’d seen in Beijing, I wouldn’t mind handing the key to a valet parking attendant.

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Chinese Won’t Let 40 Luxury Cars Go Back Home Sun, 02 May 2010 23:04:17 +0000

As the Beijing motor show draws to an end on Monday, the cars on display will be rolled on car carriers and shipped back home. All except for 40 luxury cars with a combined value of $22m. They have been snapped-up at the show, they will remain in China, and their makers can save the money for the long trip home.

The most expensive car of the show, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport, with a price tag of $5.6m was “snagged on the first day,” says China Daily. According to the paper, “the car is exceptionally rare, with only 300 available worldwide, and it sells for 2.65 million Euros in Europe.” That comes out to $3.5m MSRP in Europe. Mark-up, title and taxes in China must be considerable.

The car will actually go back to France first, where it will be “revamped” before it will be shipped back to the customer in China.

Maserati sold five of the six cars on display at the show. “Another 10 will be delivered in six to eight weeks, after the cars are customized to the customers’ requirements,” said Gao Mengxiong, Maserati China’s sales manager. Compared to the Veyron, they are a bargain. Each car sells for about $366,000. Maserati wrote sales of about $5.4m. That should have paid for the booth.

At Rolls-Royce, a representative said: “We are going to get big orders at this auto show, based on my former experiences.” One customer bought the Rolls-Royce Ghost on display. According to stories circulating in Beijing, the buyer was a 20 year old girl.

Except for three cars that were brought for display purposes only, Porsche sold all eight cars at the show within the first three days. The most expensive one sold for more than $290,000.

When the show closes, organizers expect a total of 800,000 visitors. On Saturday, the start of the three-day Labor Day holiday, 145,900 people mobbed the show. According to China Daily, “more than 2,100 car-makers from around the world”  demonstrated their technologies and products at the show. And here we were told that the world only has room for less than 10 auto makers.

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China’s Chery Picks Better Place. Possibly Wed, 28 Apr 2010 05:54:50 +0000

Shai Agassi’s Better Place possibly clinched a possibly better deal than having three taxis running around in Tokyo. Possibly.

According to the Financial Times, Better Place signed a memorandum of understanding with China’s Chery “to develop prototypes for electric vehicles to be used in regional sate-sponsored pilot projects.” This could give Better Place access to what the FT calls “potentially the biggest future market for battery-powered cars.”

The system remains the same: switchable batteries that will be swapped at charging stations faster than you can swap-in the extra battery of your camera. If you can find it. Israel and Denmark are running tests. But these are tiny countries, and this is China.

In this market, wide acceptance of a system, any system, is everything. Remember Blue Ray against HD DVD, or, if you are my age, Betamax against VHS. You don’t want to end up as a Betamax.

So far, Better Place has two car companies signed up, Renault and Chery. The latter is kind of signed up, MOUs are a dime a dozen, it’s the real deal that counts. According to the FT, Shai Agassi, is “in heavy talks with some of the global carmakers about our model.” He better get going.

For battery powered vehicles, there is no Better Place than China. The government is pushing heavily. Chinese are at the forefront of battery and EV development. China’s Science and Technology minister Wan Gang is a former Audi engineer and an electric car expert.

As far as infrastructure projects go that take forever in other countries, China is paradise: If they want an infrastructure, the Chinese will have one. Literally over night. To wit: Even before the  M.O.U. was signed,  Chery put a Better Place ready Riich G-5 sedan on display at the Beijing Auto Show.

However, Chery is a private auto maker. State-owned joint ventures, such as the one between SAIC and GM, push their own infrastructure projects, together with their governmental owners. Many cities, such as Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuhan, have their own charging station projects. By the end of the year, 75 electric vehicle charging stations are planned in 27 cities across China, says China’s State Grid Corporation, according to China Daily. Now guess who will get the thumbs up, in say, Shanghai? Better Place from Palo Alto and Chery from Wuhu? Or China’s State Grid Corporation and the likes of the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation? Guess.

]]> 3 At the Heart Of Brewing Intellectual Property Scandal In China Tue, 27 Apr 2010 09:53:40 +0000

This chair will soon be vacant

Remind me to send a bill to Volkswagen for propaganda services rendered. Maybe I can use my old Lieferantennummer. (Supplier’s Number.) Otherwise, TTAC and your humble BS would be ripped off left and right.

So on Friday, I write: “Why is Winfried Vahland still here? Wasn’t he supposed to leave his post as head honcho of Volkswagen China and move to Mladá Boleslav in the Czech Republic to head-up Skoda?”  I receive no answer. Then yesterday, Bloomberg reports: “Vahland, who has overseen the China division for five years, is leaving in the second half to return to the Czech Skoda unit and replace Reinhard Jung.” And here I thought that was common knowledge. Bloomberg says that they still haven’t found someone for Vahland’s vacancy. Says Bloomberg: “Former Continental AG Chief Executive Officer Karl-Thomas Neumann, hired by VW last November, is a candidate to replace Vahland, a person familiar with the matter said earlier this month.”

It gets even better (or worse.) Volkswagen’s CEO Winterkorn steals my lines! Didn’t I write yesterday morning “China is Volkswagen’s new home market: They will easily sell more cars in China this year than in Germany?”

That very day, Bloomberg reports in the evening from Beijing:

“There’s a seemingly endless lust for mobility in China and VW is right at the center of this astonishing development,” Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn said at the Beijing Auto Show. “China has become a second home market for VW.”

There just is no respect anymore for intellectual property in China …

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What’s Wrong With This Mustang? Mon, 26 Apr 2010 18:07:30 +0000

Sure Mitsuoka is a weird company, with a penchant for changing somewhat-boring modern cars into profoundly quirky tributes to classic designs. For example, if you really want a Nissan Versa that looks like a Jaguar Mk. II (and really, who doesn’t?), they’re the folks you go see. But is anyone imbalanced enough to desire a Mustang-based quasi-Rolls-Royce Drophead? Or is this just an attempt by Mitsuoka to out-ugly its own Orochi? There had better be a good reason for this monstrosity, because this Roller rip-off is deeply, almost intentionally hideous… as if the designer felt that the Mustang’s flank lines actually compliment the tacked-on Rolls hood. And we thought it was impossible to make the Geely GE look good

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