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Global carmakers gather for China auto show

23 april 2012, 18:07
Major carmakers gathered in Beijing on Monday for China's leading auto show, seeking an edge in the world's largest automobile market after a sharp slowdown in growth, AFP reports.

The Auto China 2012 exhibition will run until May 2 and see the worldwide launch of 120 new models, 36 of them from international brands, according to organisers.

The exhibition will also showcase dozens of concept cars and new energy vehicles with Toyota, BMW, Honda and China's Warren Buffett-backed BYD all planning to unveil electric or hybrid cars in the Chinese capital.

China -- keen to shift from its high dependence on oil -- has pledged to invest more than $14 billion to develop the technology and infrastructure for clean energy cars in a bid to have more than 5 million on the road by 2020.

But analysts say it may still take a long time for the Asian nation to fully embrace an electric future.

China's car sector stalled last year following record growth in 2009 and 2010 that saw it emerge as the world's top car market.

The slowdown came after the government rolled back auto-purchase incentives and some cities imposed tough driving restrictions to ease traffic congestion and pollution.

Nonetheless, many major multinational carmakers remain keen to boost their production, confident of continued steady growth in the Asian nation.

Foreign brands still dominate the Chinese market, but the government is trying to shift the balance by seeking to further cement cooperation between foreign carmakers and their Chinese partners.

Foreign carmakers have long been required to set up operations in joint ventures with Chinese companies.

The government is now pushing such ventures to create more local brands specifically for China's market, and earlier this year, Beijing said it was withdrawing some support for foreign investment in the sector.

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