Tension now swirls around the state of trade, with the U.S. and China locked in a standoff that has dented the Chinese economy and saddled U.S. imports with hefty tariffs.
Meanwhile, electrified vehicles — the only segment seeming to enjoy an upswing there — faces big questions after the government slashed the generous incentives and subsidies that have kept sales of battery-powered vehicles artificially inflated.
The Shanghai show is traditionally a launch pad for unbridled optimism about the potential of the world's top auto market. But gone are the double-digit growth rates. Passenger vehicle sales tumbled 18 percent to 3.24 million vehicles in the first two months of this year. Even crossovers — once gobbled up with abandon by Chinese consumers — couldn't stem the stampede away from showrooms. Crossover and SUV sales dropped 19 percent through February.
Full EV sales, by contrast, more than doubled to 114,000 vehicles in the first two months. The broader category of new-energy vehicles, which includes plug-in hybrids, rose 99 percent.
In Shanghai, automakers will be peppering their global debuts with a little of everything in an attempt to hit an increasingly small sweet spot.
Here are some highlights.