Page last updated at 12:28 GMT, Friday, 23 April 2010 13:28 UK

Barcelona's Messi to be face of Chery carmaker

Lionel Messi
Barcelona forward Messi is Fifa's World Player of the Year

China's largest domestic car-making brand, Chery Automobile, has signed up Barcelona and Argentina football star Lionel Messi as its international face.

The announcement that the World Player of the Year would promote its models was made at the Beijing Motor Show.

Chery said the firm will use Messi to promote the company's luxury lines.

"Messi is the best football player in the world, and thus he makes a great ambassador to represent our premium Riich brand," spokesman Jin Yibo said.

Chery aims to double exports this year to 100,000 vehicles

The Beijing auto show officially opened on Friday and opens on Tuesday to the wider public.

China's car market grew by 45% last year to 13.6 million vehicles, with more double-digit sales growth forecast for this year, albeit at a lesser pace than 2009.

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