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Top companies debut at Beijing auto show
By Gong Zhengzheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-31 08:35

A host of high-profile auto manufacturers are eager to make their debut at the Beijing international motor show, which is set to open on June 10.

More than 1,400 automobile and component makers from home and abroad will display their wares, including nearly 600 vehicles, during the one-week Auto China 2004, according to organizers.

Maybach, Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Mobis are among the internationally renowned firms that have been vying for space in order to make their first appearance at the Chinese capital's biennial motor show.

Jia Xinguang, an analyst at the China National Automotive Industry Consulting and Development Corp, said foreign automakers' eagerness for space at the expo was "easy to understand because all of them are having difficulties in the world's other markets, while China's is the only one that is growing rapidly."

Ford Motor Co, the world's No 2 automaker, will be the biggest exhibitor in terms of both area and the number of vehicles on display.

"We originally wanted 8,000 or even 10,000 square metres, but we have got 5,000 square metres," said Kenneth Hsu, Ford Motor China spokesman.

Ford will join forces with almost all of its other brands - Volvo, Mazda, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Lincoln and Land Rover - to display more than 40 models, Hsu said.

More than 60 per cent of these models will be shown in China for the first time, including four concept cars, he said.

"We have every reason to do our utmost in China because the Asia-Pacific, especially China, will be the auto market with greatest growth potential in the world during the first half of this century," Hsu told China Daily.

Ford, a latecomer to China in terms of local production compared with Volkswagen and General Motors, has two joint ventures in the nation.

Geely, the mainland's small privately owned carmaker, also complained that it has failed to get enough room to show off its cars.

"We only got 390 square metres indoor and another 350 square metres outdoors, that's far from our plan," said Geely Chairman Li Shufu.

Geely, based in East China's Zhejiang Province, expected to have 1,000 square metres indoors and as much space outdoors.

"We deserve support from organizers because Geely is a Chinese brand. But the fact is that most of the foreign big names will be in the limelight and we will be marginalized during the motor show. It's unfair!" Li said.

Geely is one of a few Chinese carmakers depending on its own development and brands.

More than 90 per cent of China's passenger car market is currently controlled by foreign brands, such as Volkswagen, General Motors, Honda, Citroen and Audi.

Geely said it will bring more than 10 cars to the motor show.

"I will take my wife and child to see the cars at the motor show. We plan to buy one during the second half of this year, and my child also loves cars very much," Beijinger Luo Yingbi told China Daily.

However, organizers will have to limit the number of visitors to the motor show due to fears of overcrowding.

"We will issue at most 410,000 tickets for the motor show for reasons of space," said Zhao Haiming, general manager of the China National Automotive International Corp, one of the event's four organizers.

The other three are the Automotive Industry Sub-Council under the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, the China Automotive Engineering Society and the China International Exhibition Centre Corp.

To give automakers more space at the next show in 2006, organizers plan to build a new large exhibition centre in northern suburbs of Beijing which will have an area of almost 150,000 square metres.

The motor show is also a huge source of income for its organizers.

Organizers charge foreign and domestic automakers US$260 and 1,000-1,200 yuan (US$121-US$145) per square metre respectively.

The organizers even planned to split the event into two parts last November due to internal quarrels.

It is reported that the organizers of the 2002 Beijing international motor show, which attracted around 400,000 visitors, earned profits of around 70 million yuan (US$8.4 million).

There are more than 50 so-called "international" motor shows held across China every year.

Industry experts forecast that China's vehicle market will grow at an annual double digit rate over the next one to two decades.

Sales of China-made vehicles grew last year by 34 per cent to 4.39 million units - including almost 2 million passenger cars - which enabled China to dwarf Germany to become the world's third largest auto market.

All of the world's top nine automakers - General Motors, Ford, Toyota, DaimlerChrysler, Nissan-Renault, PSA Peugeot Citreon, Honda and BMW - have built either one or two joint venture plants in China.

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