Auto China reveals a new automotive world

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The Geely Emgrand on show at Auto China 2012
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The Geely Emgrand on show at Auto China 2012

Auto China came to a close this week, with the world's automakers packing up in Beijing and likely reflecting on the rapidly changing trends in the world of cars.

It's been just three years since Detroit crashed, General Motors and Chrysler forced to reorganize themselves in a spectacular fashion, but in that time the industry has changed in almost every way imaginable.

China has emerged as the world's largest auto market, and for that reason, its auto shows are big deals -- consumers who want to get an overview of the way we'll be driving in years to come may now be better off hopping on a plane to see the Beijing show than visiting its competitors such as Detroit and Geneva.

Almost every major international automaker was in attendance at Auto China,  the last major auto show before the summer, which closed May 2, along with a huge range of Chinese names keen to retain a grasp on their home market.

Chinese design exported

Although the Chinese demand for new vehicles has been falling in recent months, it's obvious that many brands see the country as the new hub for global design -- whereas once cars would be designed in the US or Europe and exported, more and more are being conceived in China with specifically Chinese characteristics such as large luxury back seats or large grilles.

Expect, then, more cars in your country that originated in China -- especially if they've been made by Chinese firms.

Firms like Geely used Auto China to trumpet the models born in the country which they'll soon begin shipping overseas and their stands were hot property at the show.

Electric vehicles still gaining ground

Denza, the joint venture between BYD and Daimler which saw some of the most interest, highlights another trend that seems to be gaining in strength despite recent suggestions to the contrary -- electric vehicles.

Chinese officials scaled back their ambitious approach in the week before the show in favor of a slower tack, but the likes of Nissan, Volkswagen and Honda still had electric cars out in force and none seem ready to back down, suggesting that automakers are into battery-powered vehicles for the long haul.

That could be a good thing as more and more gasoline-powered Chinese vehicles hit the road, especially given the large cars which stole much of the show during Auto China.

Sizing up

The Sports Utility Vehicle, once a symbol of Detroit's dominance, now appear to represent the power of another four-wheeled nation with its foot firmly on the gas -- 30 new SUVs are slated to hit the Chinese market before the end of the year.

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