China show highlights clean cars
Fuel-efficient technologies debut alongside German SUVs at Beijing auto show
Photo credit: AUDI Q5 COMPUTER ILLUSTRATION: CHRISTIAN SCHULTE
Mercedes-Benz and Audi also will give world debuts to their new medium-sized premium SUVs.
Audi will unveil its Q5 SUV in Beijing because it sees China as a key growth market. Last year, China became Audi's second-biggest market after Germany as sales grew 24.8 percent to 101,996 units.
Like Audi, Mercedes wants to take advantage of the growing popularity of SUVs in China. After showing concepts for its new GLK class at the Geneva and Detroit auto shows this year, Mercedes will unveil the production version in Beijing.
Audi parent Volkswagen group will debut two models developed for the local market by its joint ventures in China. One will be a family-sized sedan code-named the Model X, based on the Jetta/Bora. The other will be a more upscale sedan called the Lavida that eventually will replace the Santana.
Both cars are based on the fourth-generation Golf platform and will go into production in the summer.
The Model X will be made by FAW-Volkswagen Automotive and the Lavida by Shanghai-Volkswagen Automotive.
VW's display also will include models with common-rail diesel and compressed natural gas engines.
BMW also will hint at future China-made models. It is showing its 1-series entry-premium car, along with other cars available in China only as imports, such as the Mini Clubman.Chery to launch diesels
China's domestic automakers will show the newest models in their growing portfolios as well as fuel-efficient engines.
While most Chinese brands will show cars with full-electric or gasoline-electric powertrains at the show, Chery Automobile, China's largest domestic car brand, has something different planned. It will show diesel versions of many of its models, including the QQ6 small car, the A5 and Eastar sedans, and the Eastar crossover.
Great Wall Motor will show a full-electric concept car called the Gwperi EV and a concept hybrid version of its Hover SUV.
Great Wall, which previously produced only SUVs and pickups, also will show the additions to its growing lineup such as the Gwfeelfine, a small car due in 2009, and the Florid and Coolbear small cars due out in 2008.
Brilliance China Automobile Holdings, which partners with BMW to produce BMW-badged sedans in China, is expanding its own-brand lineup.
Currently, the Brilliance lineup includes only large and upper-medium sedans. In Beijing, the carmaker will show the BS4 FRV small car due in early summer.
Guangzhou Automobile Industry Group, which partners with Honda and Toyota in China, is coming out with its own brand. It will show a Guangzhou Auto brand convertible concept car in Beijing.
General Motors' Buick Invicta luxury concept car will make its debut in Beijing. The model is the next generation of the Buick Rivera concept vehicle that debuted last year in China. The Rivera was partly designed by GM's China team.
Ford will show a Chinese version of its new Fiesta small car based on the Verve concept it showed at the Guangzhou auto show in November.
It is due on the market in China in September.
Bettina Mayer contributed