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July 4, 2016

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At Disneyland, automaker drives home a point

SAIC, Shanghai’s biggest automaker, is basking in the halo effect of Disneyland magic, with its role as logistics provider to the newly opened park providing the company an opportunity to promote its green credentials.

SAIC has 100 green buses ferrying Disney visitors from the railway station, airports and subway, and 100 electric sedans allocated for hourly hire at the Disney Resort.

Within the park, clean-energy shuttle vans convey people between the parking lots and main entrance. A holiday square in the resort area for recreational vehicle camping was named after SAIC’s commercial vehicle brand Maxus. 

SAIC, which ranked 60th last year on the Fortune 500 list, is eager to add more color to its brand story. 

In the view of company Chairman Chen Hong, branding efforts still haven’t attained the public profile and acclaim enjoyed by multinational auto companies. Since last year, SAIC has been aggressively trying to push its influence beyond the showroom floor, under the slogan “love cars and live large.”

At the end of last year, SAIC forged a sponsorship deal with the Shanghai SIPG Football Club, putting the names of the carmaker’s MG and Roewe passenger brands on the uniforms of the reigning champs of the China Football Association Super League. 

In early June, SAIC became a name sponsor of the city’s 64-year-old hallmark Cultural Square, under a five-year deal with the Shanghai Grand Theater Arts Center. It is the most expensive sponsorship deal in Shanghai’s art scene in the past five years. 

The Shanghai Disneyland Resort opens a new chapter in the campaign to create widespread name recognition for the automaker.

By teaming up with the Shendi Group, the Chinese partner in the Disneyland venture, SAIC has become part of a green traffic alliance for the Disney-centered Shanghai International Tourism and Resorts Zone. The 247,000-square-meter area plans to have half of all vehicular traffic within its boundaries running on clean energy. 

The cooperation has led to a fleet purchase by Shendi, benefiting all green models of SAIC, including the Sunwin electric bus, Maxus EV80 and EG10 vans, the Roewe e550 plug-in hybrid and the Roewe e50 all-electric car.

SAIC’s Maxus EV80 van, with maximum mileage of 370 kilometers, for example, operates extensive shuttle services within the resort without frequent stops for recharging.

For those who want more private, flexible mobility, SAIC’s citywide E-Sharing Car program has been set up at app-enabled self-service spots in two Disney parking lots, each with 50 Roewe e50 cars available for hourly rental. 

Huang Chunhua, chief marketing officer of the E-Sharing Car program, said it costs only 20 yuan, much less than a taxi fare, to reach Disney from Pudong International Airport by using the car sharing service, which charges 30 yuan for each hour of use.

Having only a little over 100 spots in Shanghai, SAIC’s car-sharing business will receive a boost from E-Car Sharing’s merger with Shanghai’s biggest hourly car rental operator, EVCard. Together they will form a new company in which SAIC holds a controlling stake.

It won’t be long before a family can easily find a car for cheap hire to get to Disneyland and avoid the crowded Disney-bound Metro Line 11.


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