Auto Shanghai ended a few days ago, and it didn’t disappoint. International and, in particular, domestic OEMs brought out impressive debuts (along with a highly publicized incident with Tesla) and there were a few surprises, too. Berylls visited the fair during the media days, and we have summarized what we consider to be the highlights for you below:
1. Domestic players on the rise – Displaying lots of self-confidence & high-flying ambitions
While all domestic heavyweights premiered new models, Hengchi (the auto subsidiary of Evergrande, China’s second largest real-estate company) stole the limelight. It invited more than 1,000 media for the premiere of its nine models, and made bold claims that it competes with established premium brands.
2. The contest over ICV has begun – “TOPS” & “MP” are the new “hp” & “kW”
While Chinese NEV (New Energy Vehicle) players previously battled for longer range, faster acceleration, etc., they are now competing in the autonomous driving arena. Their target: ICVs (Intelligent Connected Vehicles), and KPIs such as “TOPS” (Tera Operations Per Second), and “MP” (megapixels).
NIO showed its upcoming ET7, equipped with its latest autonomous-driving system. In terms of specifications, it is superior to the Tesla Model S. It has an impressive range of 1,000 km as well as 11 cameras with a resolution of 8MP (compared to 8 cameras in Model S with 1.2 MP), and computation power of 1,016 TOPS (compared to 144). The autonomous-driving system will be available as “ADaaS” (Autonomous Driving-as-a-Service).
Xpeng premiered its P5, which will be the world’s first mass-produced model to feature LiDAR sensor technology.
It seems that the battle for ICV superiority has kicked off, and that, today, the three top winning criteria are number of sensors, TOPS, and MP.
3. Pressure in all segments – Premium facing the greatest threat
Chinese players have now begun to seriously attack the premium segment – new (ICV) players in particular are readying their turn. IM (Zhiji Motor), a new EV brand (a joint-venture between SAIC and Alibaba Group), premiered its IM L7. With similar dimensions as the BMW 5 Series, it comes with wireless charging, a luxurious minimalistic interior (a trend in itself), and a maximum range of 800 km.
Geely debuted its Zeekr premium brand. The first model, Zeekr 001, will be offered via direct sales and via subscription model, and comes with an OTA shop.
HiPhi, a self-proclaimed “TECHLUXE®” (technology & luxury) brand, put its HiPhi X on display. The price range from RMB 570k to RMB 800k is a very big one for a Chinese brand. It is plain to see that Chinese players are eyeing premium, and are all set to take on Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi.
4. Tech players make a big splash – New challengers are emerging in the autonomous driving & some other sectors
Huawei, the exhibitor attracting the most media attention after Hengchi, rolled out a plethora of new products – HarmonyOS smart cockpit powered by its own Kirin chips, AR-HUD (Augmented reality – Head-up displays), MDC810 (intelligent driving computing platform), etc. All these tech, along with super-fast charging, can be experienced within Arcfox Alpha S (a brand of BAIC), and is thus labelled with a sticker “Huawei Inside”.
The products presented by Baidu were very similar. It is interesting how new players are surging into the automotive market with a vast array of product offerings.
5. Micro EVs, the next big thing – Highly popular among young & female customers
Micro EVs, such as SGM Wuling Hongguang’s Mini EV, and Great Wall Motors’ ORA Black Cat, are racking up high sales numbers. Today, Wuling Hongguang’s Mini EV is already greatly sought after by young women (80% of its mostly female buyers were born after 1980 / 1990) and its latest convertible model hopes to continue this trend. The latest ORA models is testimony of the company’s continued intention to position itself as a brand that “loves women more”. In March 2021, women accounted for 70% of its customers – and the company hopes to have continued success with new cat-themed models such as “Cyber Cat”, and “Punk Cat”.
Previously thought of as a cheap entry point into mobility, these brands are pioneers of a new wave of EVs that target the young female population.