In the United States, sales of sedans may collapse, but some of China's most prestigious automakers have announced only electric cars (no SUVs) at the Shanghai Auto Show this week. At least three were unveiled on Tuesday alone, including two from EV startups NIO and XPeng, and one from Geely, who owns Volvo.
Add to that the first all-electric car from Aston Martin, the Rapide E, and the return of Lotus as a pure electric car maker (both were also announced on Tuesday), and it's clear that sedans are increasingly coming to the fore Trend of the show. After Ford and General Motors recently slaughtered nearly all sedans in the US following the declining sales trend, this is an almost unimaginable development seen from half the world.
The sedans of Geely and NIO are just concepts at the moment. Therefore, the companies have not made too much information about their cars. For none of the cars a prize was published.
The Geely concept (preface) may not be the first or even the first electric sedan, but it's the first to build on the "Compact Modular Architecture" that Geely has developed with Volvo. This means that the production version of the sedan by Geely is built on the same architecture as the popular entry-level compact SUV XC40 from Volvo. The Polestar 2 limousine of the Volvo subsidiary Polestar and all vehicles of the Geely sub-brand Lynk & Co are also built on this platform. This intersection between the brands enables Geely, China's largest privately owned car manufacturer, to save costs and compete better with the state giants.
The concept of NIO is referred to as ET Preview, as it is to cheer up the first in a possible series of sedans. It is expected to reach a range of up to 510 kilometers (317 miles) in production. However, this estimate is based on the outdated United Nations standard known as the New European Driving Cycle or NEDC. (A more realistic standard set by the European Union over the last year is being used more extensively today.)
So far, NIO has focused mainly on electric SUVs. The company's seven-seat ES8 was commissioned just before the US IPO last summer, and has since delivered more than 15,000 copies. NIO also launched a smaller five-seat SUV called ES6 in December, and the startup is scheduled to begin production this year. (However, it is no longer planned to build the cars themselves.) His first vehicle, however, was the EP9, a limited-edition hypercar that is one of the fastest electric vehicles in the world.
EV startup XPeng offered perhaps the most baked announcement with the P7 sedan. The car is expected to travel about 600 kilometers (373 miles) with a full battery, although this estimate is also based on NEDC. XPeng says the P7 can go from 0 to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds. It will be equipped with an advanced driver assistance system called the XPilot, which uses Nvidia's Drive Xavier, a chip specifically designed to drive semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles. It's expected to be more premium than the startup's first vehicle, the G3 electric SUV, but it's still cheaper than NIO's high-end cars. Delivery will begin in the second quarter of 2020.
XPeng became famous outside of China, because the G3 is similar to the X model inside and out. (The P7 also has some Model S vibes, especially at the rear.) The company founder said he was inspired to produce electric cars after Tesla revealed his patents. He has hired employees who have worked on autopilot, and XPeng has even torn apart the cars of the Silicon Valley automaker to see how they are being built. The shape of the G3 is very similar to the Model X, and the interior has substantially the same layout. A portrait touchscreen serves as the center.
XPeng is also at the center of two lawsuits between Tesla, Apple and the US government.
Even though some may now find it inappropriate to focus on limousines, Brian Gu, vice president and president of XPeng, tells The Verge that there are several reasons why startup sedan is second model.
"If you look at car sales in China, the two biggest categories are sedans and SUVs," Gu said over the phone on Tuesday morning. With that in mind, he said, "I do not think the automakers here are too worried that they will be exposed to fluctuations in sedan sales."
(Izzy Zhu, Vice President of User Development at NIO, repeated this in an email to The Verge .) The market share of sedans in China is still very large, about 201% a year 2018. This is notable in the high sales of luxury premium or premium-priced brands such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Cadillac and Lexus. We wanted to explore something new with the ET preview. ")
Gu said a second car, which is in a completely different category, will help XPeng attract the latter To disseminate offers. He also said that the startup did not want to build a second, higher-quality SUV, fearing that selling the G3 would not be possible.
In addition, according to Gu, XPeng seeks a more cost-effective market position than other Chinese EV startups such as NIO or Byton. The company wants to sell cars in the range of 150,000 to 300,000 yuan (about 22,000 to 45,000 USD), which currently accounts for 50 percent of the new vehicle market in China, according to Gu. Not only are these numbers more favorable, but Gu believes that XPeng's technology advantage is more attractive in this segment than at higher price points, where this is more common.
Nothing indicates that no electric SUV will be announced at the show in Shanghai. In fact, there are many . But there is not much to distinguish, and many come from literally hundreds of companies that are likely to suffer, consolidate or collapse, while China will use generous government subsidies this year.
It was not just startups that demonstrated electric limousines in Shanghai this week. Aston Martin debuted with the Rapide E, a purely electric version of the high-performance Rapide sedan. Lotus (which is – wait now – now majority owned by Geely) announced its return with a high-performance electric car, which should lead to a more accessible sports car in the coming years. The California company Karma Automotive (which is supported by China) also announced a fully electric luxury car.
Sports cars, supercars and hypercars are still the domain of cars. so these announcements are not that surprising. Each of these cars is designed for more than just China. Since both Lamborghini and Ferrari eventually allow and build SUVs, it's still notable for automakers to buck the trend and stay on sedans and coupes.
One last sign that limousines are stealing the show in Shanghai this week? Tesla – who is usually allergic to most major auto shows – put up a stall, but brought only the sedan Model 3. The upcoming compact SUV Model Y did not appear at the show. Tesla recently started shipping model 3 in China. The automaker plans to build the car in a new gigafactory just built outside of Shanghai. If he wants to succeed before the production start of the model Y end of next year, he can rely also on short term on the sale of limousines in China.