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Shanghai Motor Show 2019: New energy vehicles take centre stage

16 April 2019 Nitin Budhiraja

Global automakers are focusing their presentations at this year's Shanghai Motor Show (held on 18-25 April, with media days on 16-17 April) on new product offerings in the new energy vehicle (NEV) segment in China.


Japanese automaker Nissan has showcased the IMs and IMQ electrified concept cars at the Shanghai show. The IMs is a 100% electric sports sedan with an extended wheelbase and battery located under the body. The vehicle features hands-free autonomous feature. The IMQ sport utility vehicle (SUV) has an electric drivetrain along with a gasoline (petrol) engine that generates electricity, but the vehicle is solely driven by the electric motor so the performance is similar to that of a 100% electric vehicle (EV). Nissan's premium brand, Infiniti, has also displayed its electrified sports sedan concept at the show. Named the Qs Inspiration, the vehicle has a minimalist cabin featuring two distinct zones: a clutter-free cockpit for the driver and a passenger zone that makes the most of the interior space.


Honda has unveiled the X-NV concept at the show, an electric SUV specifically designed for the Chinese market. The model has been jointly developed by Honda Motor and Dongfeng Honda. The X-NV model is expected to go into mass production soon and is anticipated to be available for sale in the second half of this year. The automaker has also showcased the Odyssey hybrid, which is expected to hit the Chinese market by the end of April.


Meanwhile, Toyota has unveiled the production version of the C-HR EV and IZOA EV expected to be launched in 2020 and will be the first EVs in China from the Toyota brand. In addition, the automaker has showcased the hybrid version of the RAV4 and the Alphard/Vellfire, the Levin plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), and a battery electric vehicle (BEV) concept car named Rhombus. Toyota is targeting sales of 5.5 million electrified vehicles globally by 2030 and plans to introduce over 10 BEV models globally in the first half of 2020, according to a company statement.


Volkswagen (VW) revealed its newest member of the I.D. family, the I.D. ROOMZZ, at a brand event in Shanghai on 14 April, ahead of the Shanghai Motor Show. The I.D. ROOMZZ showcases a full-size BEV tailored to both family and business requirements. The production version of the model is expected to hit the Chinese market in 2021. With its 82-kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery, the I.D. ROOMZZ boasts a NEDC range of 475 kilometres (km) with a full charge. The concept car can be recharged to 80% of its capacity via a fast-charging system in 30 minutes. Two electric motors can continuously drive both axles with a system output of up to 225 kW or 306 hp. The I.D. ROOMZZ can accelerate to 100 km/h in 6.6 seconds and reach a top speed of up to 180 km/h.


South Korean automaker Kia Motors has unveiled the new K3 and K3 PHEV sedan specifically designed for Chinese customers at the ongoing Shanghai Motor Show. The K3, which is expected to be available for sale in the second quarter of the year, comes with the option of a 1.5-litre gasoline engine or a 1.4-litre turbocharged gasoline direct injection engine. The automaker is also displaying its 'Image by Kia' fully electric sports sedan concept. Meanwhile, Hyundai has revealed the new Encino EV and Elantra PHEV in order to tap into the growing NEV market in China. The president and head of research and development (R&D) of Hyundai Motor Group, Albert Biermann, said, "Hyundai Motor is developing advanced technologies to support three pillars of our future mobility strategy… With a focus on constantly anticipating and adapting to our customers' changing needs, we will deliver Clean Mobility, Freedom in Mobility, and Connected Mobility without losing sight of what makes our vehicles fun to drive." The automaker has also showcased its new Sonata sedan and ix25 SUV at the show. The refreshed Sonata is equipped with advanced safety, connectivity, and convenience features, while the new ix25 has a sporty and muscular look.


Chinese automaker Geely is displaying the Geometry A, the first model from its premium all-electric car brand, Geometry. The model made its debut last week in China ahead of the Shanghai auto show. The automaker said in a statement that the Geometry brand will house a full range of its new-generation pure EVs that cover the SUV, sedan, and multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) segments. The new model, primarily known as GE11, comes in two versions, standard range and long range, and six different configurations. The standard-range and long-range versions are fitted with CATL ternary lithium batteries that respectively have a capacity of 51.9 kWh and 61.9 kWh. Before subsidies, the long-range Geometry with an NEDC range of 500 km has a price that starts at CNY250,000 (USD37,270). The price of the standard-range version with an NEDC range of 410 km starts at CNY230,000. The Geometry A also comes with one-button intelligent automatic parking system, 360-degree panoramic reversing video, an intelligent in-vehicle system, and voice assistance.


Chinese EV start-up NIO has unveiled the new ET sedan at the Shanghai show, along with showcasing its ES6 and ES8 SUV models. The automaker is also showcasing its electric mobility platform, which integrates high-energy density battery technology and electric motors to achieve a driving range of 510 km.


Meanwhile, the German brand Mercedes-Benz has showcased its new EQC electric SUV with an elongated roofline. The vehicle houses two electric motors with a total output of 300 kW. It has an electric driving range of more than 445 km (NEDC). Mercedes' close competitor, Audi, is also presenting its new models in the NEV category. The automaker has introduced its two electric models, the Audi e-tron and the Q2 L e-tron. The Audi Q2 L e-tron will be produced locally by Audi's Chinese joint venture, FAW Audi, within the year.

Audi is also showcasing the AI:ME, a new electric mobility concept vehicle with Level 4 autonomous driving abilities and retractable controls. The vehicle is 4.30 metres long, 1.90 metres wide, and 1.52 metres tall, and has a wheelbase of 2.77 metres. The vehicle has a "2 plus-x-seat" configuration, with a variety of configurations that would be used for two passengers sitting up front but which can seat up to four people with the use of a rear bench.

Outlook and implications

The 2019 Shanghai Motor Show underlines the importance of the Chinese NEV market to the majority of global automakers. Most of the new models on show are targeted at the NEV segment, which in China is defined to include pure battery EVs, PHEVs, and fuel-cell vehicles. The quota policy announced by the Chinese government in September 2017 stipulates OEMs will be obliged to meet an NEV quota of 10% of total vehicle sales from 2019, rising to 12% in 2020.

The NEV segment is witnessing strong growth in China, although the volume of sales in this segment remains a small fraction of sales in the ICE segment. The total production of NEVs surged by 59.9% to 1.27 million units in 2018, while sales of NEVs increased by 61.7% to 1.256 million units, with BEVs remaining the highest sellers in the sector. In 2018, a total of 984,000 BEVs were sold in China, up 50.8%, while sales of PHEVs reached 271,000 units, up 118%, and sales of fuel-cell vehicles totalled 1,527 units.

Although China's NEV sector is small in terms of total volume, the Chinese cities and automakers are focusing on setting up charging infrastructure as demand for NEVs in the country is anticipated to rise rapidly in the next few years. The total number of charging stations for NEVs reached 853,000 by the end of January this year, up 8.1% y/y. As part of its efforts to improve the environment, the Chinese government has been encouraging the use of EVs. It has given generous subsidies to both EV manufacturers and consumers; however, recently the Chinese government announced the final version of the revised subsidy policies for NEVs. The new subsidy scheme has reduced the subsidies provided by central government in 2018 by almost half and has further raised the threshold for a vehicle to be eligible for the subsidies. The new rules are likely to affect the growth rate of NEV sales in China in the short term, along with pushing automakers to produce more efficient NEVs. According to IHS Markit's light-vehicle alternative propulsion data, China's total annual NEV production is expected to reach 2.25 million units by 2020.

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