Well, it’s not really the Shanghai Auto Show. Officially, comrade, it’s the 12th International Automobile and Manufacturing Technology Exhibition. Insiders in the auto industry are predicting that this “car” show will be the biggest and most important in the world within 10 years. Why? Because by that time, China will likely surpass the US as the largest car market in the world. Over a billion people with a soaring economy will do that. It’s not only the buyers that are driving (pun intended) this growth, but the sellers as well. The Chinese auto industry is growing rapidly with plans to start selling vehicles outside their home market in the next few years. Get used to brands such as Chery, BAW, Great Wall and Brilliance coming to a showroom near you.
While many auto makers from around the world used the show to introduce the future direction of some of their vehicles, the most interesting, to me, was GM’s use of the show as a platform for pushing Buicks. That’s right – Buicks. As it turns out, the Chinese are gaga over GM’s semi-luxury brand. Who knew? China is the largest market in the world for Buicks with 300,000 cars sold their last year. GM is really pushing these cars in China, even putting a design center there. At the show, a new Riviera was introduced, designed at least in part in China and around the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation’s hybrid drive system. Apparently, Buick also showed off a new Park Avenue which looks sorta like a Lexus LS, if you ask me.
It would be truly interesting if the lumbering Detroit giant that is GM had a resurgence as a result of the huge Chinese market. It certainly would be among the myriad of things I never would have guessed.