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Get Ready Detroit--Here Comes China

First, some perspective. Vehicle sales in China in 2007 were 8.8 million, compared to under 3 million in 2002. U.S. car sales are about 16 million. China's best-in-the-world economic growth record means many more people can afford a car. After food and health care, better transportation is high up on most Chinese consumers' lists. Any car that even lurches along--but keeps the passengers out of the sun and the rain--is a great step up from two-wheel transportation.

As long as China's economy continues to grow at about a 10% rate, demand for cars is likely to surge in the 20% range. The entrepreneurial and ambitious people of China want to work, earn and consume. No surprise here. My own estimate is that China will be producing a net 17 million vehicles by 2012--2 million for export, 16 million for domestic consumption and 1 million imports-- easily the largest if not the most sophisticated market in the world.

Of those 8.8 million vehicle sales in 2007, about 10% were imports. The cars that

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