The 2009 Guangzhou Auto Show has been an acknowledgment by the world’s manufacturers of the importance of China to the future of the automotive industry.
In an example of this, Volkswagen has revealed its China-only Tiguan facelift due for local production from February 2010.
The changes are minor, with a few sharpened, squared-off lines around the grille and front bumper, but they are an indication of how seriously VW is taking the individual tastes of a booming new market.
VW is China’s largest foreign car manufacturer, selling more than one million vehicles in the first three-quarters of 2009 and aiming for two million by 2018.
Last week it announced that it was investing $1 billion in a plant in Dalian, northeast China, which will produce 300,000 DSG gearboxes in 2010.
General Motors has shown off two new China-only vehicles of its own.
The Cadillac SLS is powered by Holden’s locally produced SIDI 3.0 and 3.6-litre V6 units mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Standard features include adaptive headlights, parking camera and electronic stability control, as well as a 15-speaker audio system, satellite navigation and three screens with DVD and TV functions.
The second is the Buick Exelle XT, which is a mildly restyled Opel Astra, and is set to enter China’s premium compact segment.
The Excelle XT (also called the Yinglang) will come with a choice of three 4-cylinder petrol engines and a six-speed auto.
The German design replaces the outgoing Excelle range which was engineered by Daewoo, and is an aggressive yet risky and high-cost attempt to raise Buick’s image in China.
And local manufacturer Changfeng – well-known for its SUVs – is also entering the medium car market with the Acumen.
Yes, Acumen. The English word meaning “mental acuteness” and “quickness of perception”.
The Changfeng Mental Acuteness is based on the Mitsubishi Lancer and has been revealed in both sedan and coupe form – the latter sharing many cues with the Evo.
It will also be offered with three 4-cylinder engines, but production is not set to start until 2011.
The seventh annual Guangzhou Auto Show concluded on November 30.
by Tim Beissmann