As automakers continue their struggle amid an unrelenting price war in China, both established brands and startups are showcasing their latest products at the Auto Guangzhou 2023 show in a bid to take pole position ahead of what promises to be another year of tight competition.
Traditionally one of the country’s largest car shows, this year’s Auto Guangzhou offers a glimpse of how intense competition in China has been, and how successful it has been at flushing out weaker foreign marques as domestic rivals fall over one another in a mad rush to crack the market.
“Joint car manufacturers are faced with unprecedented challenges against the backdrop of the current situation,” said Wen Dali, a deputy general manager of GAC-Toyota, a joint venture between the Japanese automaker and its Chinese partner (our translation). More than 20% of the JV’s new car sales over the next three years in China are set to be new energy vehicles, mostly battery-run electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs), Wen added at a press event on Friday.
Here’s a quick roundup of some of the highlights from the Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition, which kicked off on Friday in the capital of China’s Guangdong province.
BYD – Sea Lion 07
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The BYD Ocean family of electric cars on Friday welcomed a new sibling and its latest answer to the Tesla Model Y, the Sea Lion 07, crafted by Wolfgang Josef Egger, BYD’s design chief and a former head designer at Audi Group.
The mid-size crossover boasts distinctive design elements with its muscular fenders, bold air inlets, and clean character lines on all four corners, while the high shoulder lines and the dual, through-type waistlines give the vehicle a sporty vibe. The features are intended to make the car look unique from miles away, Fan Jihan, a deputy director of BYD said on Friday during the show.
Slightly larger than Tesla’s Model Y at 4.8 meters in length and with a 2,900-millimeter-long wheelbase, the top-end all-electric car is expected to have a driving range of more than 700 kilometers (435 miles), compared with the 688 km claimed by the long-range version of its US rival. Scheduled for official launch later this year, it will be equipped with BYD’s latest advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), according to the company.
Geely – Zeekr 007
This year’s Auto Guangzhou saw the debut of the long-awaited Zeekr 007, the first electric sedan under the premium marque of auto major Geely.
The latest model from Stefan Sielaff, formerly a head of design at Bentley, the 4.9-meter-long all-electric vehicle comes with 1,711 high-intensity lamp beads powered by 75 automotive chips. This enables the car’s LED headlights to display a dazzling, customized lighting sequence with animation about 90 inches wide, showcasing some of the most advanced lighting technology by a Chinese carmaker.
Meanwhile, the Zeekr 007 features an 800-volt battery system, which offers a driving range of up to 870 km on a full charge and can travel another 610 km on 15 minutes’ extra charge. Zeeker claims it to be the quickest accelerating road car of the same class ever made, going from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 2.84 seconds, while also being one of the earliest models to use Qualcomm’s latest 5-nanometer cockpit chip 8295.
The company aims to begin delivering the car in January at a lower-than-expected pre-sale starting price of RMB 224,900 ($31,059).
Xpeng Motors – X9
Xpeng on Friday was on its home court when it unveiled details of its first flagship multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) the X9, which the Guangzhou-headquartered electric vehicle maker expects will stand out from existing offerings with superior comfort and top-notch performance.
With a competitive pre-sale starting price of RMB 388,000 ($53,544), the seven-seater has a claimed interior space of 7.7 square meters, which makes it 12% bigger than the Toyota Alphard, a worldwide top-seller in the chauffeur-driven luxury people mover category, according to chief executive He Xiaopeng.
The family van is also said to have the best third-row seats on the market that can be adjusted for recline to a desired angle of nearly 180 degrees and folded down flat to increase cargo capacity. Meanwhile, the luggage compartment offers space for seven suitcases.
The Xpeng X9 is claimed to be the world’s first MPV equipped with rear-wheel steering as a standard configuration, which reduces the car’s turning diameter to an industry record of 10.8 meters (35.4 feet), making it easy to maneuver.
Li Auto – Mega
Li Auto has finally made available the details of its long-anticipated MPV, the Mega, with an exterior echoing the bullet-style look of China’s high-speed trains. The seven-seater van boasts the world’s fastest charging speed among electric vehicles of all kinds, capable of traveling up to 500 km on 12 minutes of charge powered by CATL’s next-iteration Qilin batteries.
It has a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.215, which the company claimed is the lowest Cd rating for an MPV, while it will consume 15.9 kilowatts (kWh) of electricity for every 100 km of travel, also among the lowest in the industry.
The company, which has delivered more than 500,000 plug-in hybrid SUVs as of September, confirmed plans to build 300 supercharging stations in China by year-end. Pre-sales of the Mega started on Friday with a price tag of around RMB 600,000 ($82,800) and delivery scheduled for February 2024.
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