The eve of the Shanghai show is a big day for Volkswagen. Tonight we'll get a first look at the all-new Beetle, and tomorrow 'the group' will introduce the Seat brand to the Chinese public. Its hope is that young trendy Chinese consumers will be more convinced by Seat's sporty image than Europeans have been of late.
Before all of that, though, VW laid on a useful backgrounder on the status and development of the Chinese car market.
We get conflicting reports about the size of the pie out here. The truth is that in 2010, China's new car market was worth 11.5 million units, and should be worth about 12.5 million in 2011. That makes it the largest single market in the world, although still not the size of the USA at its height.
Who's market leader? The VW Group; why else would it be so keen to boast to a room full of jet-lagged European hacks? VW has two joint ventures established here via which it builds cars locally: Shanghai VW with SAIC, and FAW. Between the two producers, adding in the cars it imports, VW has a 17.5 per cent share of the national passenger car market. GM China comes next with 10.5 per cent of it.
The biggest single segment of that market is what we'd call the C-segment, made up of Golf-sized saloons and hatchbacks; in China they call it the 'A' segment.