As China's flourishing economy provides consumers with more disposable income, the number of cars on the nation's roads is soaring -- and looks set to continue.

So says the country's Communication Ministry, which predicts a sevenfold rise in the vehicle count, reaching 140 million by 2020 and then peaking at 250m.

This equates to 150 cars per thousand people, which still lags far behind the world's top auto-lover, the US, with 900 cars per thousand.

Recently, car sales have been tempered by a government credit clampdown in an effort to control economic expansion. However, the otherwise rapid demand for cars – private ownership increased by a massive 80% last year – has encouraged investment from foreign car manufacturers, who have agreed an expenditure of $13 billion (€10.8bn; £7.3bn) by 2010.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff