2006 Beijing Auto Show

November 19, 2006

GM PlansChina Hybrids in 2007

General Motors Corp. is planning to introduce hybrid vehicles in China in 2007. Kevin Wale, president and managing director, said during a breakfast meeting with reporters prior to the opening of the Beijing Motor Show that hybrids will play an important role in GM’s future growth in China .

“The idea you can play yesterday’s game and hope to win is long gone. You have got to be forward looking,” he said. Wale, however, declined to specify which hybrid vehicle GM was prepared to bring to China but he indicated that it probably wouldn’t be the Saturn Vue Green Line. GM has no plans to sell Saturns in China and SUVs generally have not penetrated the Chinese market.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government wants the country to be self-sufficient in energy and is encouraging carmakers to introduce hybrid technology. Consequently, GM has agreed to share hybrid technology with Shanghai Automotive, which is GM’s principal partner in China, Wale said. GM also is committed to sharing its fuel-cell technology, another area in which SAIC and the Chinese government have taken an interest as the technology matures, Wale said. —Joseph Szczesny.



PAG Expects Substantial Growth in China

Ford Motor Co.’s Premier Automotive Group, which has had its share of troubles in the past couple of years, is looking forward to doubling the number of cars it sells in China next year, from roughly 10,000 this year to 20,000 next year, says Simon Warr, PAG director of communications. The demand for luxury vehicles is very strong and Volvo, which accounted for about half of PAG’s China sales this year, expects sales to climb 80 percent in 2007. Land Rover sales will double from the current level of 2500, and Jaguar sales should be up by 60 percent.

For the previews of the Beijing Motor Show PAG showed off the Jaguar XJL Portfolio and the Volvo C70, which will both enter the Chinese market in the next year. China’s automotive media has grown steadily more sophisticated over the past few years and now increasingly bringing news of the latest automotive developments to the Chinese market. The days when manufacturers could pass off old designs have passed, he added. —Joseph Szczesny


Kia Will Emphasize Design

Kia rolled out a new version of the Rio for Beijing Motor Show. Korean brands have been very aggressive in the Chinese market, and have led the price-cutting that has helped spur sales in China to a new record this year. However, Peter Schreyer, Kia’s director of design, said Kia isn’t only relying on prices to appeal to customers. The new Rio is one step in Kia’s efforts to develop a unique design language, he said.


“Design makes brands and give soul to brands,” he said. “Keep an eye on us in the future. We’re going to give our cars a different orientation,” Schreyer said. —Joseph Szczesny



Bernhard Still Pitching Volkswagens

Wolfgang Bernhard managed to put to rest, at least temporarily, speculation that he was on the verge of leaving Volkswagen AG, possibly for a job with DaimlerChrysler. Bernhard quickly left the hall, avoiding questions from the European and American media at the show. Nevertheless, Bernhard presided over VW’s extended press conference at the Beijing Show and even vowed that Volkswagen would remain the top brand in China as he unveiled two concept cars and the new Magotan, a new model derived from the Passat designed specifically for the Chinese market. VW has reorganized its operations in China, added Bernhard, who described China as VW’s most important market after VW’s home market in Germany, adding that the company’s Chinese portfolio now includes 42 different models. VW’s sales in China have increased 28 percent this year and are poised to grow again in 2007, and VW plans to bring the Skoda brand to China for the first time to help cover the lower-priced end of the market, starting in September 2007. —Joseph Szczesny



Maybach Headed to China

Meanwhile, over at the DaimlerChrysler stand Bernhard’s former boss and buddy, Dieter Zetsche, wore his Mercedes-Benz hat as he unveiled four new models for the Chinese market, including the new versions of the S-Class and the E-Class, which is new being made in Beijing.

China is now an important destination for us. We plan to hold more premieres here,” he added.

DaimlerChrysler also rolled out a new version of the Maybach, the Maybach 62, specifically for the Chinese market, where high-end cars with luxurious back seats to accommodate the “driven” market are very popular. An exceptional car like the Maybach 62 should quickly find buyers in the Chinese market, Zetsche said. —Joseph Szczesny

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