Workers put final touches on signs on a glass wall in preparation for the 14th Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, also known as Auto China 2016, in Beijing, China, 24 April 2016. Carmakers are gearing up for a year of intense competition in China as the world's largest auto market by sales faces both slowing growth and changing tastes in the form of electric cars and sports utility vehicles. This time in 2015, global executives were bracing for a potential slowdown and a "new normal" of moderate sales growth to match a slowing mainland economy. After a bumpy run, global carmakers at the biennial Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, which opens on Monday (25 April 2016), are keen to prove they are well positioned in China's rapidly maturing market. Shifting consumption patterns have made SUVs one of the country's most promising growth segments, with sales surging by more than 50 per cent in the first quarter of 2016 compared with the same period in 2015, in contrast to sedan sales which declined 1 per cent. That mirrors the growing popularity of gas-guzzling SUVs elsewhere in the world as fuel costs have followed the price of oil lower.