AUTOSHOW-Automakers see slower but robust China growth in 2010
* China expected to keep supporting global car market
* Auto execs see at least 10 pct market growth in 2010
* Local car brands step up to grab bigger sales
By Alison Leung and Fang Yan
GUANGZHOU, China, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Car makers from General Motors to Toyota Motor expect China to keep providing much-needed relief from feeble car sales elsewhere next year, even as local brands raise their game to grab a bigger slice of their home market.
China's importance has grown beyond expectations for the auto industry as government steps to stimulate sales nudged it past the United States to become the world's biggest car market this year.
While aggressive tax cuts and subsidies have been behind much of the demand, auto executives gathered at the Guangzhou auto show on Monday said they expected robust economic growth to push sales up at least 10 percent in 2010 even without the incentives.
"I forecast the market will continue to rise next year but not repeat this year's explosive growth," said Yao Yiming, executive vice president of Guangqi Honda, a joint venture between Honda Motor Co (7267.T: Cotización) and Guangzhou Automobile. [ID:nHKG360494]
A more measured pace of growth may come as a short-term relief. The exponential growth this year has left many struggling to keep pace with demand and scrambling to add capacity to prevent consumers from fleeing to rival products. Continuación...