World carmakers still treating China as the promised land
Shanghai - The Chinese car market might be cooling off a bit after years of booming like a newly discovered gold rush town, yet the world's biggest car market is still growing and carmakers are still treating it as the promised land.
With half a million square metres of exhibition space available the Shanghai motor show dwarfs other international shows in sheer size and car manufacturers from all over the globe use it to jostle for the attention of this epic market.
The mainstream global carmakers, as in the ones we're familiar with, poured on concept car after concept car, from the far-into-the future and rather wacky Chevrolet FNR self-driving concept to more realistic design studies like the Audi Prologue ALl-Road concept and near-to-production concepts such as the Mercedes-Benz Concept GLC Coupe and Citroen Aircross.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra stands next to the Cadillac CT6 luxury sedan during a General Motors event ahead of the Auto Shanghai show in Shanghai. Picture:AP
Peugeot showed its vision of a giant-killing superhatch in the form of its 370kW 308 R HYbrid concept and while that's not likely to reach production, McLaren gave performance car fans some showroom metal to drool over as its new entry-level supercar, the 397kW 540C, made its world debut.
There were some sensible production cars on the menu too, with Lexus taking the covers off its facelifted ES and Ford revealing the Chinese market version of its Camry-rivalling Taurus sedan, while Nissan showed off its radically-styled Lannia C-segment sedan.
CHINA FIGHTS BACK
Of course, the Chinese brands were out in full force, some (and certainly not all) of them even seemingly out to prove that copying Western carmakers is so last decade.
Despite a cultural shift away from showing off wealth, something that allegedly started with a government crackdown on corruption and waste, the Chinese carmakers still appear to have a beady eye on the luxury sedan segment. To that end, Shanghai hosted the debut of flashy new four-door concepts such as the Changan Raeton CC Concept, Dongfeng Number1, Trumpchi GA8 and Zotye Z700 among others.
SUVs and crossovers are still big business in anyone's book, and the domestic carmakers are keen to capitalise on this with everything from compact eco-friendly pavement hoppers like the Qoros Phev 2 Concept to flashy-carlike crossover such as the Haval Concept R and even more traditional and boxy concoctions like the Hongqi LS5.