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Expressway offers new path for nation's transport and auto sector

By XING YI in Shanghai | | Updated: 2021-06-07 16:16
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To date, China has a total of 160,000 kilometers of expressways, all built from scratch since the first one was put into use in Shanghai in 1988.

Although only 15.9 kilometers long, the Shanghai-Jiading Expressway opened a new chapter in China's transportation.

In the past three decades, the Shanghai-Jiading Expressway was extended and became a section of the 1,960-km Shanghai-Chengdu Expressway, linking Shanghai with cities along the Yangtze River all the way to Sichuan province in Southwest China.

The starting point of Jiading is now an automotive city, home to more than 300 companies and 100 research and development institutes in the automotive industrial chain, as well as a museum dedicated to cars — the Shanghai Auto Museum.

Designed by the Architectural Design & Research Institute of Tongji University and IFB from Germany, it is the country's first automotive museum, opened to the public in 2007.

It exhibits over 100 cars that have a special place in automotive history, including an authorized replica of the 1885 Benz Patent-Motorwagen, regarded the world's first automobile, and a real 1908 Ford Model T, the first mass-produced car.

Displayed along with all these foreign antique cars is the Hongqi CA72, the first representative sedan that was constructed and built in China in 1959. Hongqi means red flag in Chinese, a revolutionary symbol of China. Around 200 of the models were produced and used in the parade for the 10th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Liu Tao, director of the museum, told China Daily that the number of sedans produced on Chinese mainland was very small until the 1980s when a lot of joint ventures between Chinese and foreign automakers emerged as the country started to open up.

"In 2009, both of the production and sales of cars exceeded 10 million, a milestone in China's auto industry," said Liu. "Now China is the world's largest auto producer and has the largest auto market."

"Domestic carmakers are becoming stronger in the world's automobile industry, and some are leading the trend of electrification and autonomous driving," he added.

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