China's car market may be starting to slow but the Shanghai Auto Show, which began on Saturday, remains one of the most highly anticipated motor shows of the year, with major automakers showcasing around 1,300 cars and 111 new models making their global debut.
This year some 2,000 carmakers and automotive components manufacturers from 20 countries have set up exhibition booths at the New International Expo Center in the Pudong district of the city, which hosts the show on alternate years with Beijing.
China has a population of 1.3 billion people and 200 million hold driver's licenses, hinting at the huge growth potential of the world's largest car market, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, which organizes the motor show.
Beijing Hyundai Motor, the Korean carmaker's local subsidiary, unveiled its Mistra, a mid-size sedan it developed for the Chinese market that is due to hit showrooms at the end of this year. Its affiliate Dongfeng Yueda Kia is showcasing the K9, a large sedan, and a face-lifted version of its K7 luxury sedan. The K9 will be available in China next year.
"We aim to produce two million vehicles in China by 2017," said Choi Sung-kee, vice president of Beijing Hyundai Motor. "We may consider building more factories [here] to achieve this goal."
German carmakers, which dominate China's market for luxury cars, have also been racing to introduce new models. BMW unveiled its X4 concept SUV, Mercedes-Benz unveiled its "GLA" concept SUV, while Audi introduced its compact A3 sedan. Porsche, owned by Volkswagen, unveiled the new Panamera, an upgraded version of its luxury sports sedan. It is equipped with a 3.0 liter twin-turbo engine capable of delivering 420 horsepower.
Consulting firm Mckinsey expects China's automobile market to grow eight percent on average each year until 2020, with sales of luxury cars tipped to surge 12 percent over the same period.