Dazzling show attracts automakers
Updated: 2012-04-24 09:35
By Li Fangfang (China Daily)
A model poses beside a Lexus during media day at the 2012 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition on Monday. Automakers from across the world are presenting 1,125 models, including 74 concept cars and 88 new-energy vehicles, during the show, which opens to the public on Wednesday. [Photo/China Daily]
China again proved on Monday it is the world's most vital automobile market as the curtain went up on the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition featuring a grand gathering of vehicles from across the globe.
A total of 1,125 vehicles are on display at the show, one of the top five in the world. There was also a record 120 global debuts, including 74 concept cars and 88 new-energy vehicles.
But the most impressive highlight so far was the presentation of sports-utility vehicle models, whose manufacturers are keen to tap into the potential of China's booming SUV segment amid an industry slowdown.
The Italian sports carmaker Lamborghini gave the world premiere of its concept SUV Urus - its third model line.
"The Urus is a very concrete idea for the future of Lamborghini as the perfect complement to our super sports cars," said Stephan Winkelmann, president and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini.
"SUVs stand for freedom and emotion. SUVs make up one of the most successful market segments worldwide. The Urus is the most extreme interpretation of the SUV idea; it is the Lamborghini of the SUVs."
He added that the target markets of the mass-produced Urus will include China, likely to be its largest market, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and the Middle East. Its annual production volume could reach 3,000 vehicles.
Maserati, another Italian premium-luxury vehicle brand, held the Asian debut of its Kubang SUV at the Beijing auto show. The concept model will be replaced by a mass-produced SUV "most probably in the second half of 2014", said company CEO Harald J. Wester.
He added that Maserati expects annual global production of its upcoming SUV to reach 20,000 units, and 6,000 to 7,000 are to be sold in China.
"We see potential especially in the China market for the super-luxury SUV," said Wester. "We are confident as our company has seen tremendous sales growth here with our existing sports car models."
Maserati's sales in China have almost doubled over the past two to three years. This strong market performance helped China overtake Germany as Maserati's second-largest market last year, with sales of 800 vehicles.
"China's potential makes us think that in the near future we would like to have a world debut for a totally new model if the auto show's timetable fits our product plan," Wester said.
Statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers show that 1.6 million SUVs were sold in China last year, up 20.19 percent year-on-year.
SUV sales growth exceeded the 5.19 percent growth in domestic passenger vehicle sales and total auto market growth of 2.45 percent during the year.
Total SUV deliveries last year accounted for 9 percent of China's vehicle market, and 11 percent of the country's passenger vehicle sales.