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April 20, 2017

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Home » Business » Auto

Domestic makers take aim at SUV market

DOMESTIC manufacturers launched a host of new models at the Shanghai Auto Show yesterday, aiming to grab market share from better-known foreign brands in the world’s biggest car market.

A total of 83 domestic models are making their debut, show organizers said, with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp, Geely and Guangzhou Automotive Group leading the charge.

Another highlight was the number of new-energy vehicles, with 159 models on display this year.

With about 45 percent of passenger vehicle sales in China dominated by foreign brands such as Volkswagen, GM, Ford, Toyota and Honda, domestic brands are aiming to boost performance by capturing the SUV market.

Some 832,300 sport utility vehicles were sold in China in March, with domestic makers having nine of the top 10 best-sellers, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

SAIC, the country’s largest automaker, said it expects to double sales to 600,000 units this year.

Its Roewe RX5, a compact SUV, had sold more than 140,000 units by March since its debut last July, driven by its appeal to younger consumers with regard to cost, performance and Internet-connectivity.

The company also unveiled its Roewe Vision-E concept, an electric SUV said to be the forerunner of a production model due next year.

Geely launched a premium brand — Lykn & Co — and its 01 SUV will go on sale later this year. Established in conjunction with Volvo, it aims to provide models with quality engineering at Chinese production costs, Geely President An Conghui said.

It plans to sell vehicles in the United States and Europe after its China launch, to compete with global automakers.

Also eying expansion overseas is GAC, which is planning a US debut in 2019, according to General Manager Yu Jun.

GAC unveiled its GA8 SUV under the Trumpchi brand, the company’s top selling series, with the model due on the Chinese market by December.

Electric vehicles accounted for just 1.8 percent of China’s auto sales last year.

However, the market is growing fast. In 2016, deliveries of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids in China jumped 50 percent to 507,000 vehicles and the government expects sales to reach 700,000 to 800,000 vehicles this year.

“Sustainability is one of the mega trends worldwide, and China is a leading market in electric mobility,” said Audi’s Dietmar Voggenreiter.

Volkswagen, SAIC-GM and Audi are among the manufacturers planning to have electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids on the Chinese market.

Volkswagen plans to launch its first purely electric car in China next year and 13 new-energy vehicles by 2020. It also aims to launch another 10 electric vehicles between 2020 and 2025.

Volkswagen unveiled an electric crossover concept vehicle — the ID Crozz — yesterday. It features a battery that can be charged to 80 percent of capacity in 30 minutes.

“By 2025, we want to have sales of pure electric vehicles up to 1 million units a year,” said VW Chairman Herbert Diess.

The group’s Skoda brand is also powering ahead with electrification with the unveiling of its Vision E concept. It has lithium ion batteries which allow a range of up to 500 kilometers. By 2025, Skoda plans to have five purely electric cars on the market.

SAIC-GM unveiled its Buick Velite 5, an extended range electric hybrid car.

“The current development for new-energy vehicles is driven by policy stimuli and consumer needs,” said Wang Yongqing, the joint venture’s president. “SAIC-GM aims at providing green and smart solutions to consumers by introducing the Buick Velite 5 to China.”


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