Thursday, December 10, 2009

For the First Time, China Buys More Cars Than the US

We knew it was just a matter of time but it happened much faster than anyone predicted. China has overtaken the U.S. as the world's biggest market for automobiles.

This is the first time any other country has bought more vehicles than the U.S. More than 12.7 million cars and trucks will be sold in China this year, up 44 percent from the previous year. Imagine what will happen next year.

This will undoubtedly affect the environment, gas prices and the kinds of cars automakers design. The Chinese will have more influence over vehicle design as they buy more cars. GM had its Chinese team design the 2010 Buick LaCrosse because the brand sells better in China than in the U.S.

China's population of 1.3 billion is more than quadruple that of the United States. Most experts think the top-sales title will shift back and forth between China and the United States for the next several years, with China ultimately prevailing.

China's sales may grow so large that cars designed for Chinese tastes will be sold globally, the way U.S. vehicles are now. But some experts doubt that will happen until Chinese automakers become competitive on style and quality. With a market that size they will have no trouble quickly becoming leaders in quality and design as well.

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