SHANGHAI – Asia’s top auto show kicked off in the world’s biggest car market Saturday, with some 2,000 exhibitors on hand to wow consumers and media in the Chinese financial capital.
During the Shanghai show, some 1,300 models will be on display.
Nissan, Infiniti and Venucia are showcasing more than 30 cars, including the new China-designed Friend-ME concept.
Nissan Executive Vice President Andy Palmer says it’s difficult to understate the importance of the Chinese market.
“It’s a huge show, biggest auto market in the world now, and Nissan’s biggest market also, so obviously one of the most, if not the most, important shows we do every year,” Palmer said.
“This show is important for many reasons. Obviously, after the political and the so-called “island crisis,” we need to come back strongly from that and we can take the opportunity from that to put our best foot forward, and prove that Nissan is a global company, and obviously working very closely with Chinese people, incorporating Chinese technology, Chinese ideas into our new cars.”
Nearly 20 million vehicles were sold in China in 2012, and automakers, including China’s six major domestic players, see Shanghai as a springboard to growth after overall market expansion of 21% in the first quarter.
Still, economic growth in the world’s No. 2 slowed to a 13-year low in 2012, and Japanese automakers, in particular, are looking to Shanghai to punctuate recovery.
Infiniti President Johan de Nysschen says the market will be both a premium sales and production center ahead, so puting China right is essential.
“Clearly, we want to leverage the strength that we have developed in the US and develop China as a second volume hub for the brand,” de Nysschen said. “Just to show we mean business, we are coming into the market quite aggressively, with very rapid expansion of our dealer network and also a big announcement at the show.”
Some 800,000 visitors are expected at the Shanghai expo’s 17 halls during the show’s 9-day run, while its theme of “Innovation for Better Life” will highlight design and technological advances pushing China’s car market to the next level.
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