The speed of growth in the Chinese auto market is difficult to comprehend because the scale of it is beyond anything known in Europe or North America, especially coupled with China's record economic growth. To capitalize on the growing automobile craze in China, Daimler is sending its smart fortwo over, with sales to start by mid-2009.

Just officially launched this year in the U.S., the smart fortwo has been racking up awards and praise for several years in Europe. Seen as a good balance between utility and efficiency, the low-CO2 emitting fortwo is a very handy car to have in big cities, thanks to its small footprint and good visibility.

But it may not be the new, second generation fortwo that will be going on sale in just over a year's time - the language in the press release is a little vague, but it looks like it's going to be the first-generation fortwo, first sold in 1998, that will be making the trip to China. Going with the older version is likely a way to save production costs, which will help the fortwo in the tough Chinese car market.

China's vehicle market is now ranked second in the world, behind only the United States, and at its rate of growth, it won't be long before it is the largest. For example, seven million new driver's licenses are issued in China each year, and every ten months a new city equals New York City's population. Beijing alone has over 3 million registered cars cruising its streets. So