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.

Changfeng-Acumen

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.

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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.

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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”.

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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