Shanghai Motor Show Previews New Cars Destined for America

Buick Envision concept

It’s finally safe to say that China has climbed to the top tier of auto shows. During the previous Shanghai Motor Show, in 2009, the United States was the world’s largest auto market. Since then, China has overtaken the U.S. and is now getting the auto-show attention it deserves.

World premieres at this year’s show include Volkswagen’s new retro-styled Beetle, General Motors’ new Chevrolet Malibu, and the Buick Envision concept.

The fact that these U.S.-bound cars were revealed a world away should give some insight into how important automakers believe the Chinese market has become.

The Volkswagen Beetle has been in existence for 40-some years and, until this week, received a grand total of two redesigns. The third Beetle, unveiled in China, looks surprisingly good. Even, dare I say, a bit more masculine. To add to the masculinity, VW will even ship a high-performance R version to the States, according to Car and Driver.

Looks to me like VW just bought another 40 years of life out of its little bug.

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

GM’s new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu has also been officially uncovered, showing off a fresh design and some ultra-cool Camaro-like tail lights. Overall, the new Malibu is shorter, wider and offers more trunk space and rear legroom than the previous-generation vehicle. Under the hood, expect a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox good for 190 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque.

The new Malibu will be one of a shocking 60 new or upgraded models GM plans to bring to China over the next five years.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu

Buick enjoys a royal reputation in the Middle Kingdom, and something like the Envision concept (pictured on top) could someday grace the streets both here and there. The Envision uses a 2.0-liter direct-injection gasoline engine coupled to two electric motors and an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Power is stored in a lithium-ion battery.

If the Envision is a glimpse into the future look of Buick, I could see Americans embracing the brand just as strongly as the Chinese have.

China: not only the world’s largest auto market, but also the world’s most trend-setting?

-tgriffith

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1 Comment

  1. New Malibu is shorter and wider than the predecessor? Sounds like it’s tuning into the X-Car. Remember those? It was GM’s answer to Chrysler’s K-car. Kind of like two drunks having a contest to see who can produce the smelliest fart.

    Wish I could say something positive about the Beetle but producing variation after variation of the same thing isn’t much to crow about when you have a company the size of VW involved. Can’t they hire some Japanese stylists or something?

    The new Buick looks interesting but we’ll have to wait to see what comes out of GM’s “oops that’s too cool for the public” styling department.

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