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Vehicle trades face potential 'revolution'

Tokyo: A new era in global car manufacturing could radically affect the car-carrying trades which, in recent years, have focused increasingly on the distribution of Asian-built vehicles to markets in Europe and the US. Carlso Ghosn, boss of the French-Japanese alliance Renault-Nissan,  has warned that a new era in low-cost car production could result in a "revolution" in the car distribution business, potentially threatening the very future of Western car makers. The Brazilian-born businessman, quoted recently in the Brazilian press, pointed to India's Tata and its plans for the world's cheapest four-door saloon, at $2,000. This, he suggested, would have serious implications for Western manufacturers who would have to adapt if they wanted to remain in business.

However, global vehicle demand is a complex business. In Russia, for example, waiting lists for foreign cars are now several months long and there is, as a result, a thriving re-sale market. The Ford Focus, for which many Russians are now prepared to wait more than six months, has now replaced the staid old Lada as a symbol of new-found middle-class affluence. Meanwhile, the scale of potential demand for prestige cars - such as BMWs, Chevrolets and Jaguars - from the nouveau riche of China and India is likely to result in more local production by foreign manufacturers and fewer units shipped by sea. [10/01/07]

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