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DETROIT — The 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit will feature the first appearance and North American debut of Chinese automaker Brilliance Auto, and a repeat showing from Byd Automobile. However, Changfeng Motor, the first Chinese company to show in North America with appearances at Detroit in 2007 and 2008, won't be back. Nor will Geely, which was at the Detroit show last year.

Brilliance China builds BMW 3 Series and 5 Series in China for the domestic market along with its own Zhonghua brand, and its subsidiary builds Toyotas for the China market as well. The company has plans to enter the U.S. market at some unspecified future time.

Byd, a rechargeable-battery specialist, is working on electric hybrid vehicles and plans to introduce them in the China market by year's end and to sell them in Europe and Israel by 2010. Its E6 battery-powered car was unveiled at the 2008 Beijing Auto Show. This company has an interesting U.S. link: Warren Buffett's company, MidAmerican Energy Holdings, has a 10 percent stake in Byd.

The 2009 Detroit Auto Show opens on January 11.

Inside Line says: Chinese autos in the U.S. market are increasingly a matter of when, not if, despite reshuffling of priorities and timetables among the players. — Laura Sky Brown, Correspondence
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