Automakers debut new lower-priced models at Shanghai auto show

World Today

A worker cleans a Ferrari ahead of the 16th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition in Shanghai on April 19, 2015. China is crucial to foreign carmakers as the world's biggest auto market, but slowing economic growth and a corruption crackdown are denting its appeal as they gather for the country's premier industry show. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE A worker cleans a Ferrari ahead of the 16th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition in Shanghai on April 19, 2015. China is crucial to foreign carmakers as the world’s biggest auto market, but slowing economic growth and a corruption crackdown are denting its appeal as they gather for the country’s premier industry show. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE

Ford showed off its new Taurus and Nissan unveiled a midsize sedan designed for China on Monday at the Shanghai Auto Show that also highlighted the commercial resurgence of lower-priced Chinese auto brands.

Competition in China is intensifying as economic growth slows and more manufacturers pile into the world’s biggest auto market based on number of vehicles sold. Global automakers are spending heavily to appeal to Chinese tastes and local brands are rolling out lower-cost versions of SUVs and other popular vehicles.

Ford Motor Co. used the Shanghai show for the global debut of its latest Taurus, reflecting the event’s rapid rise to become one of the industry’s most important showcases. General Motors Co., Mercedes Benz, and other global brands also unveiled new models or versions modified for China.

Features on the Taurus, Ford’s first full-size sedan in China, include massage units in the back seat. That is aimed at buyers who have drivers and ride in back — a market niche that increasingly is driving automakers to design bigger, more comfortable rear seats.

“Even though the market is slowing down, we are still growing,” Ford CEO Mark Fields said.

This year’s show highlights renewed strength for Chinese automakers following two tough years spent losing market share to foreign rivals. Local competitors have spent heavily to roll out new models.

Report by The Associated Press.