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Without China, BRIC markets become BRIKT

BMW no longer uses the term BRIC -- Brazil, Russia, India, China -- for developing markets. Instead, the carmaker has a more up-to-date acronym, BRIKT, which replaces the C for China with Korea and adds Turkey.

BMW used the term for the first time at the company's annual press conference on Tuesday. It's a smart move to eliminate China because the country has been the world's largest automotive market since 2009 and, at least in automotive terms, it's impossible to still consider it a developing market.

Keeping the B for Brazil, where BMW could decide by year end to open an assembly plant; the R for Russia, where consumers are hungry for premium large sedans and SUVs; and the I for India, where the X1 compact SUV will soon be built alongside the locally made 3 series, 5 series and X3, all make sense.

It also makes sense to add K for South Korea, a market still artificially closed to foreign vehicle imports, a situation that should rapidly change after a new free trade agreement with Europe takes effect.

The same applies to Turkey, where heavy import duties hinder sales of cars built outside the country, a scenario that would radically change if Turkey joins the European Union.

Reithofer was right in changing from BRIC to BRIKT and I really hope the rest of the industry will follow, deleting China from the developing auto market list.

Last September, consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers also pointed to a new frontier in promising auto markets: the VIPEP countries. VIPEP stands for Vietnam, Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt and the Philippines.

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