Foreign carmakers embrace China as electric car development hub

Toni Houston
April 20, 2017

Samuelsson said that China was a "logical" choice to build the compact electric auto because of the government's drive to reduce vehicle emissions.

The Shanghai Motor Show, which opens to the public from Friday, will display innovation of electric models that are indicated to appeal to Chinese motorists who are watching out for the unknown innovation's reliability and expense.

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

Volvo Cars, the Chinese-owned Swedish automaker, has announced plans to produce a pure-electric auto in China for sale worldwide starting in 2019. They range from family-friendly SUVs to futuristic-looking, premium-priced electric muscle cars from Chinese startups such as NextEV and Qiantu.

On Tuesday, Volkwagen AG announced plans to launch a pure-electric auto in China next year with a state-owned partner. General Motors Co.'s Buick unit and Ford Motor Co. also have announced plans this year for new electric models in China.

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

But by floating proposals to require automakers to boost sales of so-called "new energy vehicles", or risk being penalised, Beijing has given a powerful incentive for them to focus the development of such vehicles in China. Consumers are steering the other way: First-quarter SUV sales soared 21 percent from a year earlier to 2.4 million, while electric vehicle purchases sank 4.4 percent to just 55,929.

But manufacturers are showing and developing numerous battery electric and plug-in hybrid models in response to the government's desire for more green vehicles on the streets to counter China's chronic pollution.

Lynk & Co - a new subsidiary of Chinese automaker Geely, which owns Volvo -- will unveil in Shanghai an SUV with electronic features that facilitate "sharing" the auto to other drivers for a fee, much like renting out a flat on AirBnb. The China-made Buick Envision that's exported to the made at SAIC's joint venture with GM. Prices will start at 265,800 yuan ($38,600). Government authorities now support the commercialization of new energy vehicles through subsidies for vehicle manufacturers and plans for a nationwide charging-station network.

"China success is the base of overseas market success", said Zhang Liang, product portfolio planning director for SAIC Motor's passenger vehicles operation.

The head of VW's China unit, Jochem Heizmann, said the electric auto will be produced with a local partner.

Additionally, Dana's new Spicer Electrified™ e-axles for electric transit buses and city delivery vehicles feature a fully integrated motor and gear box and leverage the company's vast experience in chassis drivetrain applications.

Production is slated to begin in three years. That figure includes plug-in hybrid versions of every future model in the automaker's lineup.

As manufacturing volume of batteries - an electric car's most expensive component - expands, the cost should fall, making them competitive with combustion engines, Schoch said. It sells all-electric vehicles to taxi and bus fleets in China and overseas and gasoline-electric hybrid SUVs and sedans to Chinese consumers.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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