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EASTERN PROMISE; CHINA'S REVVING UP.

Byline: Quentin Willson

* HERE was a time - and it wasn't long ago - when silk-suited European car bosses cruelly sniggered at the faltering attempts of the Chinese to build a car industry.

Now those same executives have poured billions into China and are desperately chasing a market that's set to touch 30 million car buyers (most of them first-timers) by 2020. This week's Shanghai Auto Show was the biggest ever, and looks set to eclipse those in Geneva, Detroit and New York.

Everybody who was anybody was at Shanghai - Jaguar, Bentley, Rolls, Aston, Mini, Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Range Rover - all had a serious presence, as did most other European and US car brands.

Citroen chose Shanghai to debut their new DS5, Peugeot their SXC concept, VW their new Beetle, Rolls their LWB Ghost, and MG their new MG5. Jaguar even fielded a V6 XJ built just for the Chinese market, and BMW unveiled a Chinese-built hybrid 5-Series.

When blue-chippers like this lot choose China to launch and build their latest offerings, you know which way the wind is blowing.

Electric cars were a major theme, as the Chinese know all about recharging, thanks to 200 million electric scooters. They're also building 110 new nuclear power stations. And EVs are another trend that we in the West should watch. With more than 120 Chinese car companies already churning out cars, UK manufacturing should feel humbled.

We need to raise our game and start making major metal again. The time for sniggering at the Chinese is definitely over.

CAPTION(S):

Born again Beetle DS5 is coolest Citroen yet MG5 was one of Shanghai's stars SXC - a Peugeot that's not as we know it
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 24, 2011
Words:281
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