Car giants flock to Beijing Auto Show despite austerity measures

Story highlights

  • World's top car makers flock to Beijing Auto Show despite austerity measures by Chinese leadership
  • China to become world's largest premium car market by 2016
  • New cars from Rolls-Royce, Bugatti, Mercedes-Benz and more

Despite the Chinese leadership's austerity measures and recent reports of weak profits from Chinese car makers, the country's biggest car show opened today to much buzz.

More than a thousand vehicles are being showcased at the ten-day-long "Auto China 2014" Beijing International Automotive Exhibition.

Throngs of auto journalists crowded around shiny new supercars, luxury sedans and green vehicles during the media preview on Sunday. International automakers flew in their top brass for the occasion, pushing the newest and best models to Chinese customers.

According to a McKinsey report, China may overtake the United States as the largest premium car market as early as 2016. International car giants are looking to cash in on the lucrative but highly competitive market.

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Industry leaders such as Rolls-Royce are hoping to secure their future with China's moneyed customers. They will open three new dealerships in the country this year.

"China is now one of our leading markets together with the U.S.," says CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos who was in Beijing to unveil two new models. "In 2013, one out of four cars manufactured in Goodwood (Rolls-Royce's bespoke design studio) came to China."

Beijing was chosen for the world premiere of the Pinnacle Travel Phantom, the latest edition of the brand's flagship customizable luxury sedan, as well as a Phantom from the Majestic Horse Collection, a limited edition range inspired by the Lunar Year of the Horse.

Ultra-luxe automakers Bugatti, known for their elite sports cars, also held the world premiere for the new version of the Bugatti Veyron Type 18 "Black Bess." A legendary pre-war model that was one of the first supercars in the world, the updated version is on the market for $3.61 million. Only three will be made.

Although the exhibition venue at the new China International Exhibition Center is far from the city center, police estimate that the Beijing Auto Show will attract an average of 120,000 visitors every day.