SF auto show dazzles

Updated: 2013-11-29 09:44

By Yu Wei in San Francisco (China Daily USA)

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SF auto show dazzles

 Visitors check a Volvo S60 car at the 56th San Francisco International Auto Show on Thursday. Yu Wei/China Daily

The Grigio Metallo Metallic 2014 Maserati Quattroporte caught Ma Rui's eye.

"That is absolutely stunning. I would definitely enjoy driving and delight in controlling this car, rather than letting electronics do most of the work, " Ma Rui, an engineer from Palo Alto, said at the 56th San Francisco International Auto Show, which kicked off on Thanksgiving morning at Moscone Convention Center in downtown San Francisco.

As the Bay Area's largest auto exposition, the five-day auto show features vehicles from 38 of the world's major manufacturers, including BMW, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Ford, Toyota and Buick, with more than 600 cars on display.

Chinese-owned Swedish automaker Volvo Car Corp attended the show as well, with offerings such as the Volvo T6, S60, XC60, S80 and T5.

However, the China-built all new Volvo S60L was not on display. Scheduled to launch in December with a starting price of $32,800, the S60L model is the first product manufactured in Volvo's new Chengdu plant in China's Sichuan province and made its world debut on Nov 21 at the Guangzhou Auto Show.

After being acquired by Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co in 2010, Volvo witnessed an increase in sales in the world's biggest auto market. In the first 10 months of this year, Volvo's sales in China were up 42 percent year-on-year to 48,000 units, making its 2013 annual target of 50,000 very possible.

However, the Swedish brand is still a relatively small player in China's luxury vehicle market, where German premium auto brands dominate.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volkswagen luxury editions account for nearly 80 percent of the Chinese premium auto market, and those automakers are now moving fast to offer a wider selection in China.

"We are going to offer smaller cars in China," said Kevin Washburn, a sales professional at Audi. "One of the smaller cars we would offer in China is the Audi A3."

The 2015 Audi A3 Sedan, starting at $29,990, offers the features of a larger luxury car in a smaller less expensive package, he said.

"I'm not sure when exactly this car is going to the Chinese market, but I'm sure it will do very well in China," he added.

"We are going to eventually bring our much smaller compact A1, which is selling very well in Europe," he said. "China is a logical place to have this type of car."

China is Audi's largest single country market in the world. In 2012, Audi sold 405,838 vehicles in China, up 30 percent from the previous year and making up 28 percent of its total global sales.

"There is an ever growing number of owners in China," said Washburn. "If you are in Beijing or Shanghai, look around, you will see lots of black A4s and A6s."

The San Francisco International Auto Show has been going on for 56 years, and is described by show director Kevin Diamond as a San Francisco tradition.

"We still have our classic cars here but include more high-tech autos," Diamond said. "Another thing is we have several 2015 model cars, so people are getting a real look at the future."

Diamond said he would love to have a Chinese manufacturer represented at the show. "All you need to do is call me and we'll find a space."

Contact the writer at yuwei12@chinadailyusa.com