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Global firms launch new cars at Shanghai show

HONG KONG (Yonhap News) ― China’s largest international auto show kicked off on Tuesday with major product launches by global carmakers, showing the growing significance of the world’s most populous country for the auto industry.

Auto Shanghai 2011 began its 10-day run with press days scheduled for the first two days in the booming metropolis. The event will be open to the public from Thursday to April 28.

This year’s show is the largest in its history and is estimated to grow into one of the largest in the world, bringing together more than 1,500 automakers and auto parts manufacturers from across the world. Event organizers aim to garner some 700,000 attendants.
Models pose with Kia Motors Corp.’s K2 subcompact designed for the Chinese market at the Auto Shanghai 2011 in Shanghai on Tuesday. (Kia Motors Corp.)
Models pose with Kia Motors Corp.’s K2 subcompact designed for the Chinese market at the Auto Shanghai 2011 in Shanghai on Tuesday. (Kia Motors Corp.)

A sizable number of key launches by big-name makers will take place at the Shanghai auto show.

BMW and Mercedes-Benz are debuting the BMW M5 Concept and Mercedes Concept A-Class, respectively. Audi is set to debut its Audi Q3 crossover, while General Motors will introduce the 2012 Chevy Malibu.

South Korea’s top carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors Corp. are also expected to showcase dozens of their latest models at the show.

In line with the Chinese government’s recent promotion of environmentally friendly cars, as many as 100 different electric vehicles will be displayed by the scores of auto manufacturers.

In 2009, China topped the U.S. to become the world’s biggest auto market. Global carmakers, such as Volkswagen, BMW and Toyota, have been enjoying strong sales in the Asian country.

Auto sales in China have been growing at an annual rate of 24 percent since 2002, when it joined the World Trade Organization.

Market experts predict the Chinese car market will increase 10 percent on-year to reach 20 million units in 2011.
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