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SUVs dazzle Chengdu
Date:2010/9/20      View:963
Four major automakers rolled out their newest sport-utility vehicles (SUV) in the southwestern city of Chengdu Friday, looking to cash in on the fastest-growing passenger-vehicle segment in the world's largest auto market.

Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Ford & Audi all put new SUVs on display at the Chengdu international auto show - China's fourth largest - which runs through Sept 24.

Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz alone put three new SUV models on the chopping block Friday at the eight-day show being held in the capital of Sichuan Province.

Bjoern Hauber, executive vice president of sales with Mercedes- Benz (China), told the Global Times that although it's getting harder every year to maintain strong growth in the automaker's third largest market worldwide, the SUV sector still shows promise.

Mercedes-Benz sold more than 87,400 vehicles over the first eight months of the year, up 131 percent over the same period last year. Its SUV deliveries came at more than 7,000 units, representing an 85 percent increase.

As China's auto market returns to slower but more rational growth after eclipsing the US to become the world's largest auto market in 2009, the SUV sales more than doubled in the first eight months of 2010.

From January to August, SUV sales in China increased by 118.78 percent year-on-year, nearly 80 percentage points higher than the over-all growth of passenger vehicle sales, according to the China Association of Automotive Manufacturers.

Surveys showed sales of SUVs will remain robust in the country over the next few years, including one released earlier this month by business information firm Sinotrust.

The poll showed an increasing number of second car purchasers from affluent families over the next 20 years will boost SUV sales.

Du Fangci, assistant secretary general of the China Association of Auto Manufacturers, said that second-car buyers prefer SUVs due to their large size.

Meanwhile, formerly Swedish automaker Volvo, now owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, also launched its Volvo XC60 2.0T SUV in Chengdu Friday.

Daniel Backman, product director of Volvo Car China, said that Volvo will localize more products in China, increasing its flexibility to better adapt to Chinese consumers demand.

Volvo's sales in China, the automaker's fifth largest market last year, grew by 80 percent thanks to strong sales of its S80 and S80L sedans and the XC60 SUV.

Volvo, which currently produces the S80L and S40 in a joint venture with Ford, Mazda and Chonqing Changan Auto, is planning three new plants China.
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