The competition between local automakers and international brands is beginning to simmer.
Only a few automakers have tipped their hand on what products they intend to display at the Beijing show, set to begin Sept. 26 after a five-month delay. But Chinese showgoers are certain to notice a wave of global competition heading to local showrooms.
Nissan will introduce six additional full-electric vehicles in China by the first quarter of 2024 as part of its vehicle-electrification plan for the market, its China chief Shohei Yamazaki said in August.
Volkswagen Group, the largest automaker in China, has only two EV models in its VW brand — the battery-powered Bora and Lavida sedans. And General Motors, the second-largest player in China’s industry, has just three EVs. It sells the Buick Velite 5 extended-range electric sedan, the Buick Velite 6 electric sedan and the Chevrolet Menlo electric crossover. But both companies now signal new EV launch plans.
Last week, VW Group said it will accelerate EV introduction in China by launching four crossovers under the ID. EV brand before the end of 2021. GM said last month that more than 40 percent of its new launches in China over the next five years will be electrified vehicles.
Neither automaker has indicated whether they will use the Beijing auto show to tease what’s coming.
For now, Chinese brands account for the majority of EV sales in the domestic market. They are not backing down. Judging from information in the Beijing show’s exhibit guide this month, domestic brands intend to defend their home turf by moving upscale.
BAIC Motor Co., the largest EV maker among the domestics, will launch sales of the Alpha-T, an SUV engineered by North American mega supplier Magna International for Arcfox, the state-owned automaker’s newly created EV brand.
Dongfeng Motor Group, another major state-owned auto manufacturer, will unveil an electric sporty sedan concept called the i-Land, under its newly revealed EV brand Voyah.
Geely Automobile Holdings, the largest domestic Chinese carmaker, will showcase the first electric vehicle, a crossover, for its premium brand Lynk & CO.
Hundreds of EV startups have sprouted in China over the past few years. Many have closed as a result of cash shortages, but seven will be present at the Beijing show. They include the New York Stock Exchange-listed Nio and Nasdaq-listed XPeng Motor.
The group also includes Human Horizons, created in 2017 by Ding Lei and Phil Murtaugh, two former executives of GM’s passenger-vehicle joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp., SAIC- GM. Human Horizons will debut its first production model, the HiPhil X sporty electric SUV.
These startups will compete for the limelight with Tesla Inc., which has started taking orders for the Model Y, the second product built at its Shanghai plant following the Model 3.