China is where it's at, auto-wise. "The Middle Country" has surpassed the New World in auto sales, with some 13.6 million vehicles sold there last year, versus 10.4 million units in the U.S. This year, the trend will continue.
That makes the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, a/k/a "Auto China, 2010," a key promontory for automakers that want to show off current and future products and boost global sales. Ford and GM are paying out the rope at the show, which runs through May 2, to make sure their businesses have a strong foothold.
Ford's exhibition there, its largest to date, touts its forthcoming lineup of global small cars. The automaker is showing the next-gen Focus, a new small engine, and a smaller-displacement version of the Ford Mondeo, which goes on sale there this year.
The Focus is one of ten vehicles the automaker will build on its global small-car platform. It sold over 500,000 Focuses last month in China, and is projecting global sales of 2 million units per year in 120 markets when the cars are rolled out in 2012.
Ford is also showing a concept called Start, intended as a diminutive car for mega cities choked with heavy traffic and crippled by limited parking. It also introduced the latest version of the Ford Edge at the show. Ford will start selling the vehicle there late this year.
Joe Hinrichs, Ford Motor Company group vice president and president, Asia Pacific and Africa, says Asia Pacific and Africa will dominate global market growth for Ford over the next 7 to 10 years. He said Ford has invested more than $3 billion in the Asia Pacific and Africa region since 2006, including $490 million for an assembly plant for the next-generation Ford Focus in Chongqing, China.
General Motors is showing some 37 production and concept vehicles in Beijing this week, with a focus on Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac and Chinese partner brands. Several are global debuts. The automaker will unveil a Chevrolet electric-powered crossover concept called the Chevrolet Volt MPV5, as well as the Chevy Spark, which will come to the U.S. market next year as well.
Buick is showcasing three models, and Cadillac is showing the XTS Platinum concept vehicle, and an electric-car concept car called Converj.
The automaker is also showing of a new kind of electric-motor concept, EN-V, a two-wheel vehicle with parallel Segway-type wheel orientation and balance technology.