SHANGHAI -- China has an insatiable demand for SUVs.
In 2014, SUV sales in China jumped 36 percent, and in the first two months of this year, deliveries soared 46 percent.
The SUV market is one of the few product segments in which Chinese automakers are successfully challenging foreign rivals for market share.
Great Wall Motor Co. and Jianghuai Automobile Co. have cut sedan output to build more SUVs, while global players are racing to launch more SUVs.
The Shanghai auto show -- which opens April 20 -- will be the perfect place to gauge the intensity of the SUV war between the global giants and Chinese automakers. Honda, Mercedes, Citroen and BMW have announced global premieres of SUVs or crossovers at the show, and other automakers are sure to follow.
Chinese car buyers like SUVs for their dynamic styling and high seating positions, said Lin Huaibin, an analyst with IHS Automotive in Shanghai. "They like the feeling of lording it over other cars when they are driving an SUV," Lin said.
That's why China's SUV sales have grown at a stunning rate of 30 percent annually since 2008 -- despite a slowdown of the overall market. More than 4 million SUVs were sold in China last year, accounting for 28 percent of total passenger vehicle deliveries.
Lin predicts SUVs will generate more than one-third of China's passenger vehicle sales by 2025.