2009 Shanghai Auto Show Crucial to Building New Customer Base

Auto Shanghai 2009, the 13th annual auto show in Shanghai, runs between April 20-28 and it's naturally a major showcase for China's automobile manufacturers. However this year there's way more at stake: In the first three months of the year, car sales in China have been high enough to make it the world's biggest auto market, according to a piece at Forbes.com.

In the coming months and years, a good many Chinese will be buying their first cars--potential customers with no brand loyalty whatsoever. Now's the chance for an automaker with the right vehicle at the right price to snatch up a customer base that could, in the future, be worth billions. Vehicle manufacturers should be knocking each other over for a piece of that market.

Electric cars and hybrids have a big presence at the show. The privately-owned Great Wall Motor Company (associating themselves with the country's most recognizable landmark—how brilliant is that name, especially for a foreign market?) has debuted their GWKulla (below), a dedicated EV that uses a lithium-ion battery pack and has a range of about 100 miles (160 km). Predicted to be on the Chinese market sometime next year, the GWKulla may cost no more than about $10,000.

GWKilla

Granted that's a lot of money in China. But with similarly priced electric cars coming from Chery (the Riichi M1) and Geely (the Panda), to name just a few, how much luck do you suppose GM will have establishing a Chinese customer base selling the Volt (also at the Shanghai show) with a $40,000 price tag?

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