Beijing Auto Show Reflects New World Order
"Automakers wage war for market share," reads the headline over at China Daily. The current battlefront of that war can be viewed at the 2008 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, which runs through April 28th. With 890 vehicles on display in the 1.9m square foot arena, the nine-day event is expected to attract more than 600k visitors. The spoils of war can be lucrative, too, with Chinese vehicle sales up 21.4 percent year-over-year, which translates to 2.58m cars sold in the first quarter. Total sales are predicted to surpass the 8.79m units sold in '07 and reach 10m vehicles in 2008. While the suspected recession in the U.S. has tempered car sales here, the prospects in China offer a respite: Ford's Chinese sales have "rocketed" by 47 percent in the first quarter. GM's Rick Wagoner figures China will account for more than 40 percent of global auto sales growth in the coming decade. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz launched its C-Class sedans in China last month and Ulrich Walker, the chairman and CEO of Daimler Northeast Asia Ltd., is amazed at China's transformation. In a single generation, a population simply striving to own a "Flying Pigeon" bicycle now strives to own a "big Benz." "In the history of the world, no country has changed as much as China in the past 30 years," says MB's Walker.