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. Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:00:36 +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 2014 Beijing Auto Show: Bentley Mulsanne Hybrid Concept Mon, 21 Apr 2014 17:00:17 +0000 8891934141642831684

While the notion of a hybrid car that features a 6.75 liter internal combustion engine might seem a bit oxymoronic to some, rich folks like to demonstrate their environmental bona fides as much as anyone. With so many supercars like the Porsche 918 or the McLaren P1 featuring hybrid powertrains that combine green cred with mind-boggling amounts of total power and torque, high end hybrids have become the automotive version of eating your cake and having it too. Bentley’s new plug in hybrid concept is based on their Mulsanne flagship and they’re featuring it at the 2014 Beijing auto show. It manages to reduce CO2 output by 70% while increasing power by 25% and has a battery-only range of 31 miles (50 km).


It must be some kind of rule in the automotive world that says that hybrid cars must be visually different from their conventionally powered platform siblings. Bentley does it with copper. On the outside, the character lines, headlamps, radiator shell bezel, badges and brake calipers all get some copper plating and on the inside copper has been applied to the switch bezels, instruments and veneer fascias. Also copper colored is the contrasting baseball style cross-stitching on the Mulliner Driving Specification upholstery, a welcome change from the near-ubiquitous French stitching one finds on leather car upholstery these days.

The latest interior styling trend, quilted leather and what may be the next trend, contrasting cross-stitching.

The latest interior styling trend, quilted leather and what may be the next trend, the contrasting cross-stitching on the armrest.

It’s not entirely clear what the production plans are for the Mulsanne hybrid. Bentley has already announced that its plug in hybrid system will be offered initially in 2017 on the SUV that the company plans to bring to the market in 2016. Since Bentley’s chairman, Dr Wolfgang Schreiber has said that by 2020 at least 90% of Bentley’s production will be available as plug in hybrids, once their first hybrid goes on sale, expect hybrid versions of other Bentleys to follow in rapid order.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Mulally: New Chinese Escort Could Come to America Mon, 21 Apr 2014 16:30:13 +0000 escort

While Ford’s new compact Escort sedan was developed by Ford’s Aisa-Pacific R&D team specifically for China, Ford CEO Alan Mulally indicates that the company has more global plans for the car, including the possibility of selling it in the United States. Mulally told Automotive News that the Escort will likely go on sale in other markets besides China. He said that while the company already has the Focus in the stateside C segment, the Escort could allow the company to attract consumers at a new price point in that segment.

Ford revealed the revived Escort on Sunday at the Beijing auto show. The nameplate has been dormant at the automaker since 2000. While it’s based on a Focus platform, it has more leg room in back, something Chinese consumers appreciate. Mulally told AN that it’s only a matter of time before American consumers will also get a chance to stretch their legs in the back of an Escort.

“We have a really solid small and medium-sized product line in the United States right now…“But I think over time this will be another enhanced version of the C-size. It’s just a matter of when. We’re going to be able to provide a C-sized vehicle with different price points.”

Mulally said that how the new Escort will spread to other countries demonstrates how the company’s One Ford strategy can take a vehicle developed by one of their regional R&D teams and customize it for specific markets while still saving money by making a global product.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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2104 Beijing Auto Show: Ford Introduces Everest SUV to Chinese Market Mon, 21 Apr 2014 15:30:10 +0000 everestfront

While two days after an avalanche killed 13 Nepalese Sherpas on Mount Everest may not be the best time to highlight a vehicle named for the peak, Ford is going ahead with introducing the Everest Concept to the Chinese market at the Beijing auto show. The  seven passenger SUV, larger and more expensive than the Kuga and EcoSport crossovers already on sale there, will take the slot at the top of Ford’s utility vehicle offerings in China. The Everest was developed by Ford’s Asia-Pacific design team in Australia and it will be built in China by Jiangling Motors, one of Ford’s joint venture partners there. The Everest Concept was previously shown at last month’s Bangkok Motor Show.


 While the red hot Chinese market has cooled a bit, with light vehicle sales growing at an annual rate of 10-15% compared to the 30% growth seen in 2009 and 2010, SUV sales continue to be strong, with 40% growth year to year.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally has said that the new Chinese market Escort sedan will likely end up in the United States (with local revisions) the company had no comments about selling the Everest outside of China.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Mercedes Debuts Concept Computer Mouse In Its Latest Niche Play Wed, 09 Apr 2014 15:40:59 +0000 mercedes-concept-coupe-suv_web


This is apparently Daimler’s rival to the BMW X6. It’s called the Mercedes-Benz Concept Coupe. I think it looks like an ergonomic computer mouse.

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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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Is This The 2013 Nissan Sentra? Mon, 23 Apr 2012 18:12:51 +0000  



Although the nameplate says “Sylphy”, this is more than likely the 2013 Nissan Sentra, set to replace the dreadful current generation car.

The Chinese market Sylphy will launch with a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine and a CVT – another less-than-exciting combination, but one that would be in character for Nissan and also allow for excellent fuel economy.

Thanks to for the Photos

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail 2013-Nissan-Sylphy-Sentra-1[2] 2013-Nissan-Sylphy-Sentra-2[2] 2013 Nissan Sylphy. Photo courtesy Nissan. 2013-Nissan-Sylphy-Sentra-4[2] 2013-Nissan-Sylphy-Sentra-5[2] 2013-Nissan-Sylphy-Sentra-6[2] 2013-Nissan-Sylphy-Sentra-7[2] 2013-Nissan-Sylphy-Sentra-8[2] 2013-Nissan-Sylphy-Sentra-9[2] 2013-Nissan-Sylphy-Sentra-10[2] 2013-Nissan-Sylphy-Sentra-11[2] 2013-Nissan-Sylphy-Sentra-12[2] 2013-Nissan-Sylphy-Sentra-13[2] 2013-Nissan-Sylphy-Sentra-15[2] 2013-Nissan-Sylphy-Sentra-16[2] ]]> 27
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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Lamborghini SUV Shows Off Its Geometric Lines Fri, 20 Apr 2012 14:25:36 +0000

Curves aren’t typically the signature look of a Lamborghini, which prevents me from making any cheesy jokes about the company’s SUV “revealing its curves” like any other sex-starved blogger would.

Instead, the Lamborghini SUV looks like it was drawn with a geometry set. Apparently, the car will be named the Urus, and not after the author of “Exodus”.  Bertel will be at the Beijing show to give you all the gory details. The first Lamborghini SUV, the LM002, found favor with dictator progeny and eccentric Europeans. Perhaps the new Lamborghini will also find favor with…dictator progeny and eccentric Europeans…of a slightly different stripe this time.

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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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Citroen DS9 Spied Before Beijing Debut Thu, 22 Mar 2012 15:58:02 +0000  

While Citroen showed some thinly veiled teasers (above) of their DS9 flagship before the car’s debut at the Beijing auto show, spy photographers in France caught the car being photographed at the bustling Place de la Concorde in Paris (click to see the spy shots). The DS9 looks like it will take the C6′s fastback profile even further, with a shape more like a Porsche Panamera – or the original Citroen DS.

China is now the largest market for PSA (Peugeot Citroen) products outside of France. The DS9 will be intended to compete with cars like the Audi A8L. The Metropolis concept, which previewed the DS9, had a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, though Citroen hasn’t released any technical details surrounding the car. The DS9 will be joined by other DS range vehicles, including the DS3, DS5 and three more unreleased products that will serve as a beach head for the premium DS brand in markets such as China. European exports are up in the air, but may happen – don’t be surprised to see these cars sold in markets like Russia and Brazil either.


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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.

]]> 21 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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TTAC At The Beijing Auto Show. Day Two Sat, 24 Apr 2010 20:38:50 +0000

TTAC Exclusive:
The cars, the girls, the generals, and the news of the Beijing Motor Show

Day two of the Beijing Auto Show. It’s a Saturday morning, traffic is supposed to be light (by Beijing standards) – but boy are we wrong. The roads are clogged. All traffic flows north, towards the fairgrounds. Again, this is the second day for accredited media only. Yesterday, when we left the show, there were lots of traders offering money for the press passes. Which they resold to waiting customers for a hefty mark-up. The take was quickly put in circulation, and all of Beijing is headed to the show. Come along

An unusually high presence of security at the BAIC booth alerted us that something must be going on.

Something big.

BAIC’s BAW (Beijing Auto Works) unveiled their medium-sized SUV called “007.” Top brass, including a four star general, signed the hood.

If you want it full-sized, Beijing Auto has the B90 on tap. Nearly. Concept only, but it’s a hybrid.

Speaking of Beijing Auto, remember that they bought the tooling of the old Saab 9-3 and 9-5. You probably wonder what they did with it. Given that that shipping didn’t commence before January 15, and given that it takes a good month for the container to arrive in China from Europe, one doesn’t expect results just yet.

Wrong. Beijing Auto brought a C71 concept to the show, based on the Saab 9-5. I had totally overlooked the thing, props to TheTycho for noticing. Tycho even shows a C71 still in bubble-wrap. And an equally bubble-wrapped picture of the C60, this one based on the Saab 9-3. TheTycho must be in the trade show business. The pictures are from before the show opened. Production of the Beijing Saabs should commence in a year or so.

What about the real SAAB, the one that nearly got away was bought by Spyker? I almost didn’t notice them. Walked by their booth two times. Tucked into a dark corner of exotic cars, there it was – Spyker. And a small SAAB sign. If that booth is a sign of things to come, then Saab will go nowhere. A lousy Saab 9-3 ragtop, next to a Spyker Aileron. And guess which one got the girl?

Let’s get back to SUVs. China hasn’t received the memo that SUVs are antisocial. If they would have received the memo, it would have been thrown away. SUVs are all the unabated rage in the Middle Kingdom, with no social stigma attached whatsoever.

Offerings range from the run-of-the mill Pajero …

… to plenty local fare (nod to Micheal Blue, who demanded “pics of wheels and the babes’ legs”) …

Toyota shows the FJ Cruiser, complete with winch (always a handy item when stuck on the 3rd Ring Road).

Then there are the HUMMERs. Yes, HUMMERs. Isn’t HUMMER officially dead? Hasn’t the Tengzhong deal been given thumbs down by the Chinese government? Who cares! There are HUMMERs in sinister matte black …

… there are blinged-out HUMMERs, ready to fly.

… there are long wheel-base, blinged-out HUMMERs.

… there are HUMMERs stretched from here to Sunday. I once rented a stretch HUMMER in New York, and it couldn’t make the turn on Park and 86th. No such problem in China. On Tiananmen Square, one could create a slalom course for the stretched HUMMERs.

Never say die: HUMMER is alive and well in China. When I asked one of the customizers (who didn’t want to have his picture taken, and who only gave his surname as “Wang”) what they will do when their supply of Hummers runs out, he answered: “Mei wen ti.” (No problem.) “We’ll always have a supply. One way or the other.” Whatever that means. Either they bought all the remaining stock for cheap. Or …

Should their endless supply of HUMMERs expire, there is always Range Rover to the rescue.

Speaking of Rover: Tata-owned JLR has found the proper subliminal message for prospective buyers (such as reader Willman) of their much shorter Land Rover: “Kneel, slave! You WILL buy it, and you WILL NOT drive it for 6 months as punishment.”

While on the topic of length: As recently underscored by Ed Niedermeyer, the secret to appeal to China’s elite is to make cars longer. The luxury market in China develops serious stretchmarks, and nobody objects. Rolls-Royce tries to gain market share with their Phantom extended wheelbase.

There are these rumors going around that Chinese cars are inherently unsafe and perform miserably in crash tests. Citroen started a non-profit initiative and shows, for everybody to see, the secrets of building a crash-worthy car. (Important segments in RED.)

Toyota joins this initiative by showing smashed-up Toyotas. For those who don’t know: C-NCAP is the Chinese New Car Assessment Program, modeled after EuroNCAP, which is modeled after the U.S.  NCAP. All with slightly different parameters, just to keep it interesting. And speaking of accidents: No booth babes in Toyota’s booth. As a customer oriented company, Toyota doesn’t want any sudden acceleration, of heartbeat or whatever.

(Surprising TTAC props section)

Yesterday, we reported that we had found the Buick booth deserted, and all of GM’s displays devoid of any female companionship for cars. I was about to avoid the GM display on day two, would it not have been for a request by ajla: “More Park Avenue and Cadillac SLS pictures please.”

So I went back to fulfill customer wishes, and guess what: The Buick booth was mobbed! Wait, there’s more …

On to the Cadillac SLS, and what do we see? Elegantly dressed females, to complement the shapely lines of the SLS. Way to go, GM China!

Bonus upskirt photo.

Bonus CTS-V picture

Rumors of the demise of the Volt-derived Converj are untrue – if this picture is an indication. Why would GM bring the car to China, dedicate an even more elegantly outfitted lady to it, and then not build it? Would they do that? China would object.

Pictures of the Park Avenue? We aim to please.

Park Avenue from the outside …

… and from within.

Somehow, I believe that reader ajla has a lot of pull at GM, and that the request for more pictures was aimed at getting me back to the booth after the unfortunately delayed ladies had finally arrived in strength. Even the lowly AVEO has company.

The overgrown Segway is lonely no more and has received companionship. Of the fairer and the unfair sex.

Bravo, GM! You listened to customers, you minted deserved criticism into a grand show – and that literally overnight. That’s true dedication to excellence. Perception gap no more. As an added bonus, we won’t say a word about Ford.

Also because we could not find Ford. They were in a hall off the beaten path. And they forgot to do what Volkswagen (also in a hall, far, far away) did.

The TTAC 2010 Beijing Motor Show for Consistency under Duress Award goes to the Infiniti desk ladies. They received (and deserved) wide TTAC coverage on day one.

We checked on them right when we got to the show on day two. No change.

An hour later: No change.

We couldn’t leave the show without checking again on a team that would put the Kensington Palace guards to shame:

No change.

They will be there until May 2, when the show ends.

Infiniti could receive no better branding. That’s what we call unending devotion.

Next year’s show will be in Shanghai. Beijing and Shanghai alter each year. Before the circus comes back to China’s capital in 2012, they better build more space. They’ll need it.

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TTAC At The Beijing Auto Show. Day One Fri, 23 Apr 2010 19:53:18 +0000 918 M Spyder at the Beijing Motor Show. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

TTAC Exclusive: The cars, the girls, and the news at the Beijing Motor Show

Media day at the Beijing Auto Show. Had to get up at 6am to get from downtown Beijing to the new fairgrounds. Had to experience my first Beijing rush hour. Usually, I walk to the office. One flight of stairs down. Barely got to the fair on time for the press registration before 9am. Here is Friday’s pictorial.

But hey, TTAC has a fully credentialed correspondent at the Beijing Auto Show. Bet the other blogs have to scrape together whatever they can find on-line. Credentials have a bit of a spelling problem, but it’s a start.

Press day? Whole China must be a member of the Fourth Estate: This place is PACKED. If someone says again that China doesn’t have a free press, I’ll scream. Half of Beijing must have gotten in here for free.

Chang’an must have brought their whole factory. At least the female part of the factory.

Further in the “must have” department, all presenters must have the same speech writer. Or all the speech writers agreed on the same opening line: “China is the world’s largest auto market.”

Slowly, I’ll believe it. Each speech invariably begins with “China is the world’s largest auto market.” Maybe it just dawned on them. My bet is lazy speech writers. I know what I’m talking about. I wrote those speeches in the olden days.

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 find his name, reserving a front seat for the Volkswagen press conference. I think, they were nice and invited him back. After all, Skoda is at the show as well.

Then Winfried takes the stage and MC’s the Volkswagen press conference, he opens his speech with “China is the world’s largest auto market.” He presents the Tiguan (yawn) and the CC (yawn, should not get up in the middle of the night.) He presents a hybrid Touareg. They showed it at the New York Auto Show. Zzzzzzzz.

Then finally, Vahland presents the new Phaeton. No news for TTAC readers, you already know. One change: Vahland doesn’t want to sell 2000 Phaetons a year, he wants to sell 3000 a year in China!

Easy for him to say, if he’s still planning to head-up Skoda. His successor will have to do the selling. But he breaks a little sweat after making the projection.

Lamborghini’s presenter is il presidente Stephan Winkelmann. He opens the ceremonies with a “Signori e signore, buon giorno.“ Then he drops into English with a strong German accent. He introduces the luminaries from Volkswagen flawlessly. No wonder: Stefano hails from Berlin, but went to school in Rome. The perfect CEO for an Italian supercar company that is kept as a playground by Audi. (VW’s expensive toybox is Bugatti.) Winkelmann shows two mean cars with an obscene power to weight ratio and a top speed that’s definitely illegal on China’s highways and byways.

One is a special edition Murcielago LP 670-4 SuperVeloce model, made exclusively for the Chinese market as a limited edition of only ten copies. Tops out at 342 km/h.

The other is the mint-green Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera. A price is not mentioned. If you had to ask …

Winkelmann mentioned that Lambo sold 80 cars in China last year and hopes to sell more this year. I think he said that “China is the world’s largest auto market.” Everybody says that today.

Hybrids, hybrids, everywhere. Porsche shows their new Cayenne hybrid. The presentation is given by communications director Christian Dau. He’s lively and videogenic. The dour CEO Anton Hunger remains seated.

They premiere a V6 Panamera, let’s call it a budget Panamera for China’s working masses. An AWD Panemera is also shown.

Then they take the clothes off a hybrid beast, the 918 M Spyder that is said to do the Nordschleife in 7 minutes 30. We’ve seen the thing before, but the Chinese have not. The undressing is sexy.

Of course, the presentation at Porsche started with “China is the world’s largest auto market.”

Audi shows a long wheelbase A8, which should sit well with Chinese customers who sit in the rear seat of a driver-driven car. They also introduce a Hybrid A8. The presentation is the best so far. No grumpy German is reading from a teleprompter.

Instead, a good looking Chinese lady leads through the event in Chinese and English. Well done.

Audi shows a few other cars they had shown before. They are very popular with the younger crowd. (This being press days, are we looking at the new motor correspondent of Beijing Youth Daily? We’ll never know.)

I’m getting tired of press conferences. Nauseating de ja vue. Except for the aforementioned Chinese lady, the speeches sound like what I wrote 20 years ago.

I chat up some tech guys from Crewe at the Bentley booth instead. They speak some kind of English only Cammy would understand. Or not … We exchange some insider info.

“Do they still make Bentleys in that whacko glass factory in Dresden?”

“Oh (unintelligible)! Thank god we stopped that (unintelligible). Made maybe 300 (unintelligible) raw bodies there when we ran out of capacity back home.”

“Still cranking out 4000 a year?”

“Maybe (unintelligible) 5000. We (unintelligible) make them. Do they (unintelligible) sell them (unintelligible)? Who knows.”

“Anything new here?”

“Everything is (unintelligible) new. Gussied-up some special China editions. You know how it works.”

Nice guys.

At 1:30 is the big Mercedes-Benz-AMG-Maybach press conference. I decide to go. Can’t hang out with my old buddies all day. As we hit hall W4, the Mercedes-Benz-AMG-Maybach booth is overflowing. The rest of Beijing must have obtained press credentials. The booth is mobbed with members of the media who have their cell phone cameras ready. We beat a hasty retreat. No Benz coverage at TTAC due to overcrowding.

We bid adieu to the press conferences and start looking at cars.

Now here is the time when a warning is in order. I know there is a discussion about the pros and cons of booth babes. Sexist exploitation and all that. Must let the car speak for itself, without the distraction of the other sex.

But I’m sorry. This ain’t New York. This is Beijing. It is virtually impossible to photograph a car without a pretty woman in the picture.

Take this Ferrari 599 GTO as an example. See? Impossible without a female in the image.

Or let’s use Mitsuoka as an for instance. I tried every angle …

… and as hard as I may have tried to ban the British-influenced works of the Japanese coachbuilder on my memory chip, there were always women in the picture.

Sometimes, women would pour out their hearts to you. I have no idea what the Chinese says. My assistant says “drive carefully.” But why on hearts? When they left, they gave me a business card and an invitation to see them.

Decided to do some honest reporting. Open questions about the state of Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge in China needed clearing up.

According to the press liaison person of Chrysler China, all local production of Jeep and Chrysler products had stopped a while ago. She cannot remember when, it was before her time. She guesses 2005. Says everything is being imported. Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge. Asks me not to mention her name, or take her picture. Worried she got something wrong and wants to avoid trouble “with higher up.”  Recommends to take a picture of the lady in the leopard outfit instead. I comply.

The lady in the leopard outfit gives me the internationally agreed-upon hand signal for “bad boy.”

Leopard is definitely en vogue at Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge in China. While Jeep had a leopard-adorned lady, Dodge around the corner had a leopard-adorned car with a scantily clad lady.

The Dodge is a crowd-pleaser.

(Note to Jeep and Dodge: It’s the year of  the TIGER in China. Not the year of the LEOPARD. Different animals.)

BAIC’s “Jeeps” are in a different hall and of a different color.

A very special version.

Short break from the cars. News of the impending bursting of the real estate bubble have reached Beijing, and people are taking the necessary precautions.

Infiniti brought three desk ladies who do not move.


They stand like this.

All …

… day long.

One of the few cars that could be photographed without females on the hood: A Bertone. A member of the media takes the opportunity to shoot pictures for publications in glossy magazines.

Smaller manufacturers such as China’s Hama compensate the smaller size of their cars with larger complements of women.

They do it consistently.

Curbside Classics, China edition: This 60’s era Citroen Pallas confused the Chinese, and they ignored it. They had a cultural revolution when this car was all the rage in Europe.

The newer Citroens on the other hand are quite fashionable.

Freelance bodyguards prowl the halls in search for business. Beijing is a very safe city. The bodyguards went home as unemployed as they came.

Again, it is impossible to photograph a car without the requisite female.

The CPIT Automotive Sub-Council is under tight guard 24/7.

The health of all participants of the show is likewise of utmost concern.

Two reporters of the “Sanitary Workers” magazine, a must-read in the plumbing business.

The latest homegrown models of SAIC are in the focus of the media.

Great Wall opposed the trend of female exploitation, and choses male exploitation instead.

Then, they quickly change their mind.

(Obligatory TTAC GM slam section)

GM has the overgrown Segway on display. However, on closer inspection, it looks like an inoperable mock-up.

The GM booth is one of the few booths that do without female ornaments. Actually, the Buick booth does without an audience, Must have been lunchtime.

The Cadillac display likewise has a strict BYOBB (bring your own booth babe) policy. This is TTAC’s editorial assistant Echo Hu, helping out. I bet, TTAC is the only major US auto blog that has an editorial assistant in Beijing.

Ever heard of Hawtei automobile? We neither. Anyway, they seem to have the answer to the bubble economy. The long implements are not whips, they are the bows for electric violins.

Imagine, you go to the Detroit Auto Show, and the personal car of the Commander in Chief is on display. The Secret Service would have a coronary. Not so in China. The stately limousine is on display in the FAW booth.

As the first day draws to an end, roll-call of the cars’ companions. All accounted for.

Support and technical personnel is likewise all present, everybody can go home.

PS: When I came home, Japanese Yahoo News had the story that the Beijing Show beat the Tokyo Motor Show, in exhibits and in visitors. On press days. Not open to the public.

Imagine what happens when the other half of Beijing and the rest of China will mob the show from April 27 through May 2. Ah, and the story on Yahoo opened with “China is the world’s largest auto market.”

PPS: We will be there again tomorrow. As we are a customer oriented publication, please discuss what you would like:

-         Pictures with the unavoidable females

-         If not, a full day of coverage of the GM booth

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Beijing Auto Show: BMW Chases The Four-Door Coupe Niche Fri, 23 Apr 2010 16:03:38 +0000

While its German rivals pour into the burgeoning four-door premium coupe segment, BMW has been busy exploring the premium five-door GT segment. With its complement of GT variants complete, the Bavarians are making up for lost time with this Gran Coupe Concept, debuting at today’s Beijing Auto Show. Basically a lower, wider, more coupe-profiled 7-series, the Gran Coupe is clearly aimed at models like the Porsche Panamera, Maserati Quattroporte and especially the forthcoming Audi A7. And though it’s technically just a styling exercise, the Gran Coupe (or something like it) could be headed for production.When asked by Autocar about the Gran Coupe’s chances of launching a revival of the 8 Series nameplate, BMW Chief Designer Adrian van Hooydonk said:

I don’t think of this car as an 8-series, but our marketing department may think differently. Either way, their work is just beginning, and I know that often it can take longer than our design work!

bmwgrancoupe bmwgrancoupe1 bmwgrancoupe3 Re-coupe-ing lost time? Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 18
Beijing Auto Show: Hyundai Lets Its Accent Show Thu, 22 Apr 2010 21:19:03 +0000

Several Chinese sites have caught shots of the next-generation Hyundai Accent [via] just prior to its reveal at the Beijing Auto Show. Styling-wise, the Accent appears to combine equal parts Y20 Sonata and Genesis Coupe, in a compact four-door package. The coupe-like profile looks to limit visibility somewhat, but no more so than other examples of the current trend towards bunker-like interiors. Otherwise, we’re looking at a fairly stylish little sedan that should help Hyundai keep its momentum building in the US market. And what of the long-available three-door Accent? Hyundai will likely be replacing both that budget hatch and the Tiburon sports coupe with the Accent-based Veloster sporty hatch.

2012-hyundai-accent-car 2mglfeb soslj6 The onslaught continues... ( ]]> 20
Beijing Auto Show: GM Previews Volt MPV5 Concept Thu, 22 Apr 2010 18:43:07 +0000

Look everyone, it’s a Chevy Volt that can seat more than four people! Official images of the Volt MPV5 concept have leaked today [via AutoblogGreen], confirming what recently-discovered line drawings hinted at: a people-carrying version of Chevy’s Volt is under development. The extra rear seat and the 30.5 cubic feet of storage space (62.3 cubic feet with rear seats folded) does come at a price though, as GM says the MPV5 comes up 8 miles short of the Volt’s marketing-mission-critical 40 miles of electric range using the same drivetrain. On the upside, it will almost certainly be classified as a light truck (despite its compact, FWD underpinnings), making it the perfect vehicle to goose increasing CAFE standards.

A Volt from the blue? (courtesy: AutoblogGreen) Volt MPV5 Concept Interior Volt MPV5 Concept Interior Volt MPV5 Concept Rear Quarter View Volt MPV5 Concept Side View Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 15
Facelifted Phaeton Emerges In Beijing, Armed To The Teeth Thu, 22 Apr 2010 11:40:45 +0000

Volkswagen confirmed today that reports of a facelifted Phaeton are true. Tomorrow and on Saturday, the press can admire the car at the Beijing Autoshow. From April 27 to May 2, the remaining 1.3b Chinese will be able to get a first look, and decide whether the car fits in their purchasing plans.

Eight years after the Phaeton was launched in Germany with great fanfare, and four years after it was pulled from the US market due to being a resounding sales flop, a face-lift has been long overdue. “Usually, one would expect a whole new generation after eight years in production,” complained Germany’s Focus Magazine. Not a whole lot has changed at the outside. But the on-board electronic weaponry has been escalated to a level that soon will put JSTARS to shame.

The Phaeton received a nose job (praised in the press release as a “completely new front section” that  “further refined the model’s very own stylistic aplomb.”)  The Phaeton also received a fanny-tuck (a.k.a. “modifications to its rear section.”) The rest must rely on the Phaeton’s “timeless elegance.”

When the Phaeton was launched, it was chockablock full of electronics. In Wolfsburg, they called it a “Technologieträger” (technology carrier.) It had a dizzying array of 56 computers, interconnected by 3 separate CAN buses. We quipped at the time in internal literature that the car “has more computers and is better networked than a small company.”

Technology marches on, and the facelifted Phaeton received a healthy dosage, further to flummox the average repair person, and to add new acronyms to the Wolfsburgian language. The 2011 Phaeton will  come with Dynamic Light Assist (camera-based dynamic main beam regulation.) It’s navigation system can integrate online data from Google into the map display Data will be loaded on a 30 Gig hard drive over the Internet via mobile telephone “and a proxy server specially set up for the purpose.”

The Google feature most likely will not be overly stressed in Beijing, given the state of Google’s affairs in China. The proxy gives VW the opportunity to side-step any possible Google-blocking in China. Tunneling via proxy through the Chinese firewall is a popular sport in China. The Phaeton would be the first car to be equipped with that sneaky feature. Google will deliver point of interest data such as “tourist sights, businesses, sports venues, and doctors’ surgeries.” The latter feature was most likely added to get back into the good graces of Jack Baruth, one of VW’s former U.S. volume customers (he had two Phaetons.)

VW  Buyers with a nanny-fetish can check off the an optional front camera that enables the Phaeton  “to ‘see’ road signs, with speed limit signs visualised on the instrument panel and centre console’s touchscreen. Very hepful: The system also recognizes the nasty little footnotes under posted speed limits (such as ‘10pm – 6am’ or ‘When wet’). FYI, in Germany, “When wet” (“Bei Nässe”) refers to the road surface, not to the state of your copilot.

The system will also be able to “recognize and depict ‘no overtaking’ signs – the first in the world to do so!” No word on automatically lowering the speed, or prohibiting Baruthian drivers from flaunting the law. “Side assist” will turn into a nattering backseat-driver if you change lanes with someone in your dead spot, or without using the blinker. As a further nod to Jack Baruth, all electronic nannies can be muzzled by resolutely pressing a button in the “center of the indicator stalk for more than a second.”

Still handmade at the “Transparent Factory” in Dresden, the Phaeton will be available as normal and long, a nod to Chinese clientele of that segment that leaves the ordeals of driving to a driver. The long version adds 12 centimeters. In the engine department, the choice is between gasoline and diesel, hybrid lovers may not apply. Despite rumors to the contrary, the Phaeton will not shed its brutish W12 twelve-pot gasoline engine that delivers 450hp. More sedate V8 (335hp) and V6 (280 hp) engines are available. Oil-burner aficionados will receive “an extremely frugal and smooth-running V6 TDI.” According to VW, in Europe this is the most frequently selected engine for this car. The turbocharged common rail direct injection engine delivers 240 hp and accelerates the Phaeton V6 from 0 to 100 km/h in just 8.6 seconds. Top speed with this example of frugality (8.5 liters per 100 km) will be 237 km/h. With the W12, you can easily exceed 300 km/h, if you know someone at the factory, or a clever technician, who erases the 250 km/h speed limiter from the on-board computer.

China is critical to the Phaeton’s survival. Last year, “Chinese deliveries of the Phaeton rose 40 percent to a record 1,400 cars. Volkswagen aims to increase that figure to at least 2,000 vehicles this year, a 43 percent gain, to make China the model’s biggest market,” says China Daily. Volkswagen sold 4,500 Phaetons worldwide last year.

In China, about 825,000  citizens had a net worth of 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) or more last year, and the average tycoon can live in harmony with the working masses by choosing a Phaeton: “Look, I drive a Volkswagen, just like you. It’s the people’s car!”

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Beijing Auto Show Preview Sun, 18 Apr 2010 14:59:44 +0000

Like it or not, more and more car makers elect to premiere their newest creations not at the IAA in Frankfurt, or the Detroit Auto Show, but in China. What do you expect with China being the world’s largest car market, and growing like gangbusters.  TTAC will cover the Beijing Auto Show on press days of April 23 and 24. With daily posts, helped by the fact that China is not only ahead in sales, it’s also 12 hours ahead of the East Coast.

Here is a short random preview, gleaned from various posts on Chinese websites.

Above is a drawing of the Mercedes Benz E-Class Pullman to be Made in China, and possibly on display at the show. It’s not that it’s a secret anymore. The drawing is from a Chinese patent application.

Brilliance, called Zhonghua in China, will bring a facelifted BS4, called Junjie in China, says TheTycho. Judging from the image title, it could also be a BS6, we’ll see. As someone who has the same initials, I question the wisdom of calling cars meant for (but not doing so well in) export “BS.” But who knows, maybe Brilliance is thinking like me and wears the BS as a Badge of Honor.

Want something a bit sportier? Brilliance pimps up their “rather boring FSV sedan with this new FSV Sport,” says TheTycho.

Greatwall will show a new SUV called the Greatwall Haval. TheTycho says originally, the plan was to call it Greatwall Hover. But maybe that was to close to Rover. Or Roewe. Or whatever.

Speaking of which. SAIC’s Roewe (nee Rover) will show a facelifted Roewe 750. Carelessly parked at the kerb, as they would say in Rover-land.

In the non-SUV-dept, Greatwall will show the Tengyi C50. The English name of the beast?  Voleex C50. I don’t know. Shades of Solex. Associations a Chinese car maker should avoid.

Dongfeng is busy with joint ventures. But like most Chinese JVs, they start making their homemade brands. One attempt is “, Fengsheng .“ Above, the Dongfeng-Fengsheng H30 Cross. If I’d be Dongfeng, I’d stay with my joint ventures. Or intensify their search for Western car companies.

Chang’an, also big in the joint venture game (for instance  with Ford) will show their sport sedan-coupe hybrid prototype, the C201.

Shanghai GM will show their long awaited new Buick Excelle, here caught “standing somewhere outside the factory in Shanghai,” as TheTycho says.

Geely will show their Emgrand-branded EX7. Here the first model running of a not too well lit assembly line.

This is a bigger Emgrand, the EC825. According to TheTycho, it will be powered by “Mitsubishi’s ancient 2.4 four cilinder and a little less ancient Mitsubishi 2.0.”

For the sportier crowd, Geely will show a GLEagle. Concept only.

Fiat-cognoscenti will say: “Didn’t I see that car before?” When Fiat dissolved their joint venture with Nanjing Automotive in 2008, it sold the Palio and Siena platforms to small automaker Zotye. They will launch a not too much updated Siena at the Beijing Auto Show.

More Beijing Auto Show previews can be seen here. Oh well. I guess I have to bide my time until Friday, when we’ll see the really interesting new cars, which have been hidden from prying eyes. Or not, as we say at TTAC.

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New Maybach Already In Beijing Wed, 07 Apr 2010 11:48:42 +0000

Despite rumors of Maybach’s imminent demise, or, even more shocking, a sell-off to China’s BYD (a rumor that had been debunked the next day) Maybach is alive and well. Why, we don’t know. But anyway, Maybach will introduce a facelifted model at the upcoming Beijing Auto Show. The car is already in town.

Today, Daimler’s top-of-the-line was spied on Beijing’s streets by TheTycho. Too bad that the front had been removed or taped over. The front is where most of the minor Maybach changes will happening. I guess we’ll have to wait for the show.

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