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The Auto China Show Offers a Glimpse Into the Future of EVs

At the 2024 Auto China show in Beijing, it was clear that electric vehicles (EVs) are the future. This year, EVs and hybrid cars took center stage, with 280 of them on display, marking the first time in the show’s 34-year history that traditional petrol-powered cars were outshined.

A record 117 new models made their global debut, highlighting China’s dominance in the auto industry since it surpassed the United States in 2009. The event attracted 892,000 visitors, including many dealers eager to sell the latest and greatest Chinese models.

Companies and Innovations on Display

The show featured more than 500 companies, from Hesai, a lidar sensor supplier, to Volkswagen, the first European carmaker to set up a factory in China. UBS analyst Paul Gong described China as both a “university for studying the latest technology and trends” and a “fitness studio to hone their competitiveness.”

Hot Topics and Price Wars

China’s EV price war was a hot topic, discussed at nearly all 163 press conferences during the first two media days. BYD, the world’s largest EV producer, sparked a new round of price cuts by offering five models under 100,000 yuan (US$13,840), with the cheapest being the e2 compact SUV at 89,900 yuan. This move prompted competitors like Li Auto and Xpeng to follow suit, much to the delight of Chinese consumers.

Volkswagen, celebrating its 40th year in China, announced it could cut costs by 40% by shortening EV development time by 30%, according to China CEO Ralf Brandstatter.

Luxury and High-Tech Models

GAC, Honda’s Chinese partner, showcased the Aion Hyper SSR electric sports car, priced at 1.686 million yuan. This two-door coupe has a range of up to 506 km and features scissor doors.

The Aion Hyper SSR sports car by Chinese electric vehicle maker GAC. Photo: AFP

BYD also aimed high with the Master edition of its Yangwang U8, priced at 1.1 million yuan. This luxury SUV includes an optional built-in drone for a bird’s-eye view. BYD plans to deliver the Yangwang U9 supercar, which accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.36 seconds, for 1.68 million yuan.

The Hongqi N701 limousine, used by Chinese leaders, was another highlight. Its specifications are secret, and it serves as the Chinese equivalent of the American president’s “Beast.” The public can purchase similar models like the H9, priced between 309,800 and 539,800 yuan.

Xiaomi’s SU7: The Buzz of the Show

China’s Premier Li Qiang visited Xiaomi’s booth to check out their SU7 electric sedan. Resembling the Porsche Taycan but selling for a fraction of the price at 215,900 yuan, the SU7 offers a 700 km range and connects to Xiaomi’s devices via IoT technology. It includes features like a fast smartphone charger, a heads-up display, and headrest speakers. Since its launch, Xiaomi has received about 90,000 orders, aiming to meet its 100,000-unit target for 2024.

 Xiaomi’s SU7 EV is displayed at one of the company’s stores in Shanghai. Photo: Bloomberg

Elon Musk’s Surprise Visit

Elon Musk stole the spotlight with his unexpected visit to Beijing during the show, even though Tesla skipped the event for the second consecutive year. His meeting with Premier Li Qiang made headlines, showcasing Tesla’s significance in China.

Innovative Use of Space

Electric vehicles, free from bulky internal combustion engines, offer more space for innovation. The Zeekr MIX concept, by Geely Holding Group, features sliding doors that reveal a spacious interior with rotating front seats, creating what Zeekr calls an “intelligent living room.”

GAC’s Era crossover concept and Changan Auto’s Avatar Qiyuan E07 also showcased creative uses of space, transforming interiors into social hubs and combining SUV functionality with pickup truck storage.

Advances in Fast Charging and Battery Technology

China is a leader in EV battery production, with companies like CATL unveiling batteries that offer a 1,000 km range. The Shenxing Plus battery, for instance, provides 600 km of range with just 10 minutes of ultra-fast charging.

The next big thing? Sodium-ion batteries. These use abundant mineral salts instead of lithium and cobalt, making them cheaper and more sustainable. Sixteen of the 20 sodium-ion battery plants under construction are in China, with companies like CATL and BYD leading the charge.

Source: South China Morning Post

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By evee Life Contributor

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