The fastest growing automotive segment in China is the luxury market, where sales soared 24% in the first eight months of 2006. Asia Times reports that Jaguar sales in China were up 220% in 2005, while Land Rover is up 107%. China is the third largest consumer of Rollers, behind the U.S. and Britain. Recently at the Beijing Auto Show, Rolls Royce sold their Phantom display for $838,681. Volvo CEO Fredrik Arp has said that in five years, he expects China's luxury car sales will grow at an annual rate of 60% and Porsche hopes to almost double its 2005 Chinese sales.

Japanese automakers have taken notice as well. Lexus is already set up there, Honda began selling Acuras in September and Infinitis are expected in Chinese dealers next year.

GM is the sales leader in China, with Buick being a popular luxury choice. By years' end, China is expected to have bought more Buicks this year than we Americans. Of course, as we said earlier this week, China gets a much cooler breed of Buick than we do and Chrysler is another American name selling briskly there as well.

With virtually every carmaker in the world chasing the rapidly forming Chinese market, you might think the slices could get pretty thin. But even with only 5% of it's population able to afford private transportation, China's potential car-buying crowd numbers more than 65 million. That's a lot of pie.

[Sources: Asia Times, Boston Globe]

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