While foreign manufacturers are pushing into the chinese market, some chinese carmakers are trying to do the exact opposite: jump into europe, australia or america. Whether from shanghai, guangzhou or shenzhen – we introduce four exciting car manufacturers from the middle kingdom.
about 40 years ago, the then volkswagen ceo carl hahn recognized the enormous potential of the chinese automotive market. As one of the first managers from the automotive industry, he established relationships with business people in china, which was then still considered a sleeping giant. A lot has changed since then: the sleeping giant has awakened and become the world’s largest sales market for passenger cars. Today, the volkswagen group sells around 40 percent of its vehicles in china, and a total of around 42 million units are said to have already gone to the People’s republic.
The carmaker from lower saxony is thus an example for a whole series of european and american manufacturers that make a significant part of their sales in the chinese market. For BMW, China is the second-largest sales market after europe; in 2020, Daimler generated more than one-third of its sales in the world’s most populous country. Yet china is anything but a pure import nation. Whether WEY, NIO, XPENG, geely or SAIC – the Chinese automotive industry has a large number of its own manufacturers, both large corporations and innovative start-ups. Some of them aim at the european market. We present four exciting brands.
WEY: big car, small price, but still luxury
The luxury brand WEY is a subsidiary of the chinese car company great wall motors. It owes its name to jack wey, head of the parent company and the strategic mind behind the company, which was founded in 2016 and has been preparing to enter the German market for several years. In 2017, WEY presented its vehicles for the first time at the IAA and showed where the journey is to go in the future: with suvs in the upper mid-range, the newcomer wants to position itself as a low-cost alternative to premium manufacturers such as audi, BMW or mercedes. Over the past few years, WEY has built up a range of plug-in and combustion engine vehicles with the abbreviations P8, V5, V6 and V7. In the home market, the brand has already sold over 400 of these units.000 units sold.
WEY is now preparing to make the leap into europe, having recently given its flagship V71 (a derivative of the V7) a new coat of paint. It was presented to the world at the shanghai auto show in april 2021, together with two new concept vehicles (latte and macchiato). While the latter two are not expected to be available on the european market until later, the V71 ¬- which now goes by the name of mocca in china – is expected to be available for order in germany as early as fall 2021. The premium plug-in hybrid comes with an average fuel consumption of 1.4 liters per 100 kilometers, a battery with a range of about 200 kilometers and an automatic parking assistant. WEY’s design is based on striking lines, wide shoulders and a large chrome-look radiator grille. Prices for the V71 (mocha) have not yet been announced by the manufacturer. More details should follow at the IAA mobility in september 2021 at the latest, as WEY will also be taking part in this year’s mobility trade fair. Perhaps the company will also explain where the passion for coffee, which is unusual in china, comes from..
NIO: highly traded tesla twin
No less exciting is the electric start-up NIO, founded in 2014, which will already be familiar to interested observers thanks to its skilful PR work: it presented its first model in a london gallery in 2016. An extremely wide and flat electric racing car (EP9) in metallic blue, which caused quite a stir but has only been built six times to date. Unlike the two successor models ES8 and ES6, two suvs that have been on the market since 2017 and. sold in china in 2018. And with growing success: in 2018, sales figures were still just under 8.000 units, in 2020 already at around 44.000.
the shanghai-based manufacturer’s share price has also followed a similar trajectory, starting 2018 at $9.9 on the new york stock exchange and today (early may 2021) standing at around 40 U.S. dollars. A stock market success that has already earned NIO the nickname "chinese tesla twin. This is also due to the AI-based car software NOMI and the with over 1.000 kilometers of range announced for the ET7 electric sedan, which is strongly reminiscent of the electric manufacturer from California.
When it comes to the european market, however, NIO is still a long way from its role model. But according to company founder li bin, this is set to change this year: "we are aware that we already have many enthusiastic fans in europe as well. We also already have plans to sell our cars there. We will start in one country and then expand step by step," said li bin at the launch of the ET7 in january. NIO has chosen the norwegian market, which is considered a pioneer in e-mobility, as its starting point for europe.
XPENG: start-up with strong investors
Young and electric – that also applies to XPENG, a company founded in 2014 that has already made a name for itself in China with mid- and luxury-class cars. From the megacity of guangzhou, it now wants to expand into europe, relying on the long-standing expertise of its two founders, xia heng and he tao, who previously worked for the chinese automotive group guangzhou automobile group. But the young start-up not only has a great deal of knowledge of the industry, it is also already well positioned financially. Chinese internet giant alibaba and electronics manufacturer foxconn are just two of the many big-name investors behind XPENG. With them, the start-up has already successfully launched two electric models on the Chinese market in recent years – the G3 SUV and the P7 sports sedan. Since its market launch, the sales curve has clearly been pointing upward: 371 cars sold in 2018, 16.000 one year later and 2020 around 27.000.
A success that XPENG now wants to repeat in europe with fresh money from its IPO. Customers have been able to buy the G3 in norway since december 2020, albeit in very limited numbers. A step that many observers see as a first test for the european market. A suitable model for this could be the P5 family sedan, which XPENG has just unveiled at the shanghai auto show. The fully electric vehicle with a range of around 600 kilometers is designed to enable automated driving on the highway and in urban areas.
SAIC: large corporation with "new energy" offensive
The Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, or SAIC for short, is one of the largest car manufacturers in China. one of the reasons for this is its numerous cooperations with foreign manufacturers, such as general motors, MG or the volkswagen group, for which SAIC offers various models in the chinese market. SAIC, like all other manufacturers, is subject to the requirements of the Chinese government, which for several years has set certain sales quotas for "new energy vehicles", i.e. for e-cars, hybrids and fuel cell cars. An area in which SAIC is now embarking on a comprehensive model offensive. The manufacturer plans to expand its "new energy" range to around 100 models by 2025. In addition to a number of fuel cell cars, battery electric vehicles are to make up the bulk of the portfolio.
And with these, the Chinese group now also wants to conquer the European market. With the traditional British brand MG, the portfolio already includes a manufacturer with european market expertise. Since the beginning of 2021, it has been offering an electric SUV from the Chinese group in austria, norway, germany and the netherlands. The model, called ZS EV, comes with a 44 kWh battery and a range of around 260 kilometers, and costs just under 32 euros.000 euro.
The SAIC ZS. © SAIC
Geely: with electric power from scandinavia
Another major company from china is geely. In addition to the brands emgrand, englon, london cab, panda and shanghai maple automobile, which are rather unknown in europe, the company also owns the two scandinavian manufacturers volvo and polestar, which were purchased by geely in 2010 and 2015 respectively. With them, the Chinese group is indirectly represented in the European market and is trying to score points above all in the electric segment. While volvo aims to convert its entire model range to zero-emission powertrains by 2030, the mid-range and tuning brand polestar specializes entirely in battery-electric powertrains. In its portfolio, it offers both a hybrid sedan (polestar 1, highly limited) and an all-electric sedan (polestar 2).
The IAA MOBILITY is transforming itself from a pure car show to an international mobility platform with four pillars: the summit, the conference, the "blue lane" and the inner-city open space. Under the motto "what will move us next" it stands for the digital and climate-neutral mobility of the future. From 7. Up to 12. September 2021 the car, bike and tech industries will come together at the IAA MOBILITY in munich.