If size equals power then the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition is now arguably the most important car exhibition in the world.
Last year's Frankfurt Motor Show might have offered more global unveils, but Beijing Auto, open to the public for six days last week, had the most vehicles on display with 1,125 to Frankfurt's 1,012. And while China's position as the world's biggest car market relies on millions of cut-price minivans and budget saloons, it has also become crucial for the financial stability of upmarket Western car brands. The country is now Ferrari's second largest market and Bentley's biggest: sales of the British marque soared by 85 percent in the first quarter of 2012 alone.
Unsurprisingly then, Beijing Auto - which alternates with a similar event in Shanghai every other year - attracts the most international interest. The 2012 expo is another crucial marketing (and sales) opportunity for Western brands to present their latest products to Chinese consumers. It also provides a shop window for domestic Chinese car brands preparing to export their latest models to more mature Western markets.
The Beijing International Exhibition Centre's 230,000sq m space played host to 120 global unveils, including a Lamborghini luxury SUV concept, the Mercedes Concept Style Coupe (a svelte four-door previewing the CLA production car that will hope to emulate the success of its bigger CLS brother) and a special-edition Range Rover Evoque by Victoria Beckham. Out of the 100-plus world firsts, here is Wallpaper's 2012 Beijing Auto Show top ten.