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Learning English - Words in the News
25 April, 2007 - Published 15:24 GMT
Shanghai auto show opens for business
Traffic in Beijing
Car sales are soaring in China

In China the Shanghai auto show has opened to record crowds. The number of cars on China's roads is expected to quadruple over the next fifteen years meaning it will soon have more cars than the United States. This report from Quentin Sommerville:

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The world's car-makers have turned up in droves at the Shanghai auto show. A generation ago there were only a million cars in all of China; now there are thirty three million and that number is expected to quadruple over the next fifteen years.

So auto manufacturers are expecting great things from China and none more so than luxury car-makers. Bentley, Lamborghini and Rolls Royce have all built extensive dealerships here. It was a market that didn't exist a few years ago, but the appearance of home grown millionaires and even billionaires has changed that. Bentley saw its sales in China double last year. Rolls Royce, with cars costing as much as two million dollars, has seen China become its third most important market after the United States and Britain. It plans to double the number of showrooms in China this year.

Beijing is uneasy about such ostentatious displays of wealth, especially as the gap between the rich and poor here continues to grow. A luxury tax on large cars was introduced last year. Coupled with import duties, it means a new Rolls or Bentley bought in China costs double what it would in the United States or Britain. But even that hasn't been enough to stop China's expanding numbers of super rich from buying the cars.

Quentin Sommerville, BBC News, Shanghai

Listen to the words

turned up in droves
arrived or attended in large numbers

increase in number or quantity by four times the present amount

businesses which sell a company's product range (here, cars) to the public

home grown millionaires
people who have become very rich in their native country (rather than going overseas to make money)

uncomfortable, worried

ostentatious displays of wealth
showing that you are rich by buying and publicly using very expensive things

A luxury tax
a tax on things which are expensive and provide pleasure, but are unnecessary for daily living

put together


super rich
very rich people

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