Toyota is set to become the largest carmaker in the world once again this year thanks to strong demand in Japan, Western Europe and North America, but the battle for China is set to boil down to longtime leader GM and once - and possibly future - king VW.
The German marque is all but set to take next year's crown thanks to a rash of new products, but GM is countering with an extended dealership network.
From VW's various brands, big sales gains are likely to come from fresh versions of the China-only Volkswagen Santana sedan (pictured), the Volkswagen Golf hatchback, the Skoda Octavia low-priced compact and the Audi Q3 crossover. GM is gunning on a pair of new Cadillacs - the ATS and the XTS - to boost demand. In addition, GM is expanding its network by about 400 new car showrooms in China next year, which will bring its total figure to a staggering 4,200 outlets.
Meanwhile, big Japanese automakers like Toyota and Nissan are predicted to continue to lose demand unless a stalemate spat between China and Japan over a chain of uninhabited islands near lucrative fishing waters is resolved. There is some evidence that demand for Japanese cars is beginning to recover, but the country's products have a long way to go to get back to where they were in China.