China: Car Capital of the World?

Models display sedans at the Chery Automobile Co., Ltd. in Wuhu of Anhui Province, China. CHINA PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES

The attendance at the Shanghai auto show in April said it all: No major automaker dared to miss it. While Nissan (NSANY) skipped Detroit's North American International Auto Show last winter, and several companies are expected to stay home from this fall's Tokyo Motor Show, the glitz and glamour at Shanghai were as flashy as ever. Porsche even decided to launch its new luxury sedan, the Panamera, at a posh event at the 101-story Shanghai Park Hyatt hotel—rather than in Frankfurt or Detroit. "For the last 100 years, the auto market was about the U.S. and Europe, but now everything is changed,"says Atsuyoshi Hyogo, chief operating officer for Honda Motor (HMC) in China, which showed a new concept car in Shanghai under the Li Nian brand, a new marque for the Chinese market.

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