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Beijing (April 2008)

Name: 2008 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition (10th show)
Show dates: Press Days: April 20-21, 2008 (Sunday to Monday) 2 days
Trade Days: April 22-23, 2008 (Tuesday to Wednesday) 2 days
General Public Days: April 24-28, 2008 (Thursday to Monday) 5 days
Venue: New China International Exhibition Center (CIEC)
Theme: Dream-Harmony-New Vision

Outline and Impressions of Show:

The 10th Beijing International Automotive Exhibition (Auto China 2008) occupied 100,000 sqm in a brand-new exhibition center located near Beijing Capital International Airport. China does not have a motor show officially sanctioned by the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d'Automobiles (OICA), but it does have a very vigorous and active car market. In 2005, it overtook Japan to become the 2nd largest automobile market in the world, right after the United States. The country is expected to sell more than 10 million cars and trucks this year, and the Auto China in Beijing is gaining attention as well as Shanghai and Guangzhou as an international event.

With exhibits in categories like passenger cars, commercial vehicles, vehicle bodies, carrozzeria and parts, the show attracted approximately 2,100 exhibitors: 225 international companies from 18 countries and regions in addition to more than 1,800 domestic. A record total of 890 vehicles were on display, including 55 concept cars, 7 World Premieres from international brands and 24 Asian Premieres.

The new exhibition center is located in the Beijing suburbs about 4 km from the airport and accessible in about 45 minutes by car from downtown. At the moment, there is no train station within walking distance, requiring visitors to take a taxi or bus from the closest station, but plans include the construction of subway stops at two locations on the south and north of the center. There is also a plan to build a dedicated road that will connect directly to the city's main arteries.
Outside, the front entrance is framed in glass to create a stylish impression; as you walk in, the natural light creates a very bright, sunny entrance hall. Broad aisles make it easy to access individual exhibition halls and the white-based color scheme creates a clean, uncluttered feel.
There is a total of 100,000 sqm of exhibition space at the current point in time, but plans call for gradual expansion to an ultimate size of 250,000 sqm. The auto show also had eight temporary tents set up outside and another temporary pavilion covering 25,000 sqm of space located about 1 km away, giving it a total of 180,000 sqm, but it was obvious that even that was not enough.

Visitors entering the gate must first pass through strict security, including x-ray screening of baggage, gate-style metal detectors as well as handheld wands, and then only are allowed through the rotating bar once the bar code on their pass has been read. The venue uses an electronic system to manage access information, which means that the bar code must also be read to exit. One uniformed guard is assigned to each of the bar code readers to ensure compliance, and visitors are limited to four entrances and exits per day to prevent passes from being reused by multiple people. Previous shows have also had security systems and access management, but they have never been this strict. Whether it was the newness of the venue or a practice run for the Beijing Olympics coming up in the summer, the sheer volume of people and equipment devoted to this task seemed to weigh heavily on the atmosphere.

The show had eight exhibition halls, four each on the west and east sides. They were devoted to categories such as passenger cars, carrozzeria and major parts companies like Bosch; among the Japanese carrozzeria, SIVAX had a booth. The hall nearest the south gate appeared to be the main exhibit and featured a large number of Chinese booths. The only non-Chinese exhibitor was Suzuki. Leaving the halls, the outside exhibits on the south side were devoted to commercial vehicles, vehicle bodies and tires, which were wedged in between the buildings. The eight temporary tents and the off-site pavilion featured parts, accessories and services.

The passenger car booths also exhibited fuel cell vehicles, hybrid vehicles and safety technologies, indicating a greater awareness of the environment and safety, but the basic focus was on selling to the Chinese market, and a large number of market models could be seen. Even the World Premieres were mostly sedans and SUVs popular in the domestic market: Nissan's "Teana" (sedan), Mercedes-Benz's "GLK" (SUV), VW's "Bora" and "Lavida" (sedans), Audi's "Q5"(SUV), Porsche's "Cayenne Turbo S" (SUV) and one other. More luxury cars are also being sold in China, and during the show 32 of the world's most expensive vehicles on display, including Bentleys, Maserati and a 375 million yen Bugatti Veyron, were sold.

Toyota brought 50 vehicles to its booth, including offerings from its Lexus brand and indeed representing every model it offers in China. It also had seven reference exhibits, headlined by the "iQ Concept" and "i-REAL" (six were making their first appearance in China). Honda made its first appearance as a joint venture, with Guangzhou Honda Automobile showing off its independently-developed "Li Nian" brand.

Most of the passenger car manufacturers held their press briefings on the first Press Day, including four Japanese manufacturers (Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Subaru) and eight from other countries (GM, Mercedes-Benz, VW, Ferrari, Maserati, Peugeot, Citroën and Skoda), evidence of the expectations and ambitions that the auto industry has for the Chinese market.

The exhibition was bright and colorful. Advertising for participating manufacturers could be seen almost everywhere: in the aisles, glass surfaces, on the exterior walls, and virtually any available space. There were also banners along the center islands of roads within a 1-2 km radius of the hall. We counted more than 40 going down just one road, and this effort to bring in the surrounding community contributed to the excitement and atmosphere.

In addition to exhibits, the show offered 27 technical seminars and forums sponsored by exhibitors, automotive industry groups, newspapers, magazines and other media outlets. The passenger car events were all sponsored by Chinese manufacturers, though foreign companies did sponsor events for commercial vehicles (Iveco) and parts (GKN and Continental). As a special event for the general public, the show had its first ever four-wheel drive test ride outdoors on the north side. The dirt course was divided into several sections, and the highlight was a climb up a 5 m hill with a maximum slope of 40°. Vehicles were provided by such makes as Ford and by JAC, a Chinese manufacturer.

The Auto China 2008 was held at the new show venue in the rapidly expanding domestic Chinese market. Coming away from our tour, we were impressed by the show's power and by its growing importance not only to visitors, but also to exhibitors and industry organizations around the world.
Venue layout
Main Entrance
Entrance and admissions gate
Security check
Beijing Olympics Mascots
Beijing Olympics Mascots
Toyota: iQ Concept
Honda Booth
Guangzhou Honda: "Li Nian" Concept
Nissan: PIVO 2
Mercedes-Benz Booth
Exhibitor ad boards