The 2013 Shanghai Auto Show is now in full swing, and just about every automaker of significance is on the scene to show off its wares.
Since 2009, China has been the world’s largest car market, and now it’s more important to the industry than ever.
European auto sales are crumbling and there’s no sign they’ll bounce back anytime soon. Sales in the U.S. are steadily approaching pre-2008 levels, but prospects for substantial growth beyond that point are slim.
That leaves China as the key market in the global auto industry, and carmakers know it. To win over Chinese buyers — whose traditional taste for small cars has turned to a love for luxury sedans, supercars and SUVs — the industry’s executives have come from all over the world, including China itself, to be in Shanghai this week.
While we got a sneak peek in New York last month, Audi saved the official debut of its A3 and S3 for Shanghai. The sedan body is popular in China, where it will be produced. The S3 will offer a 0 to 60 mph time of just 4.9 seconds.
Ford is in China as well, showing off a new concept version of the Escort. Never a showy car, this Escort is designed to be functional, roomy, efficient, and safe.
Chinese automaker Chery is at the show, of course. Its β5 (pronounced Beta 5) concept compact SUV is meant to meet Chinese buyers' developing love for big cars. A production version should hit the road within a year.
Buick revealed three new sedans in New York last month, but it saved the shiny hardware for China, where its sales figures are excellent. The plug-in hybrid, concept Riviera is sleek and sporty, and looks like it was made for a sci-fi movie.
Geely, the Chinese automaker that owns Volvo, has come to the Shanghai show with the Emgrand EX8. The seven-seat concept crossover's engine produces just 150 horsepower.
Not every car in Shanghai is meant to generate big sales numbers. Icona Design and Engineering's first product is the Vulcano, with a 6.0-liter V12 engine meant to rival the best Ferraris on the road today.
Acura debuted the SUV-X concept this week, the first time is has revealed a concept outside North America. It plans to have the production version hitting roads in China within three years.
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