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EVs Take Center Stage at Shanghai Auto Show: The Battle for the Future of Mobility

You are in the midst of the world's largest car market, China, where foreign brands are racing to catch up with their domestic competitors in the crucial electric vehicle (EV) market. As you take in the sights at the first auto show in China since Covid restrictions were lifted, you can't miss the dozens of new electric vehicle (EV) models on display. EVs already account for a quarter of car sales in China, showcasing the country's significant market share in this growing segment. Both domestic and Western brands have unveiled their latest EV offerings, demonstrating the fierce competition in China's EV market.
China's domestic brands currently command 81 percent of the EV market, as noted by analysts at Counterpoint Research. This has led European industry giants like BMW, Volkswagen, and Mercedes-Benz to emphasize the importance of doing business in China, acknowledging that "China is the place to be" in the world of EVs, as BMW executive Frank Weber stated during a news conference. BMW has tripled its research and development in China over the past three years, with almost 70 percent of its newest operating system being specific to the Chinese market.
As BMW's top executives took the stage at the Shanghai Auto Show, they couldn't stress enough the significance of the Chinese market. Oliver Zipse, one of the executives, passionately stated, "What moves Chinese customers today will move the world tomorrow," as he proudly unveiled the i Vision Dee, a mesmerizing color-changing electric sports sedan. The anticipation and excitement in the audience were palpable as BMW showcased their cutting-edge innovation, specifically tailored to the preferences of Chinese customers. It was clear that BMW, like many other global automakers, recognized China as a key player in the future of the automotive industry..
Volkswagen, on the other hand, announced a one billion euro ($1.1 billion) investment in a new development center for EVs in southern China as part of its "in China, for China" strategy. The company also stated that it would present 20 electrified models at the show, including the world premieres of the Volkswagen ID.7 and the new Cayenne Porsche. In a news release, Volkswagen emphasized that "China is an important pacesetter for the entire automotive industry" and that "a strong position in China strengthens our global competitiveness."
Mercedes-Benz also joined the race by announcing that it has fully electrified two classic models, the off-road G-class and its Maybach SUV.
Interestingly, Elon Musk's Tesla, the biggest seller of electric cars globally, was not in attendance at the Shanghai Auto Show, and a representative did not provide a reason when contacted by AFP.
Meanwhile, China's domestic champions, like BYD, are looking to expand westward. BYD unveiled a series of new electric models, including a supercar from its high-end Yangwang brand, positioning itself as a fast-rising competitor to Tesla. Chinese media reported that BYD has set a sales target of three million units for 2023 and plans to export 300,000 EVs this year, a significant increase from 50,000 units the previous year. BYD has already made its presence felt in the European market, starting with Norway and expanding into other European countries.
Other Chinese brands, such as Zeekr, a premium electric brand owned by Geely, have also announced plans to enter the European market. Spiros Fotinos, Zeekr's Europe CEO, stated that "Europe for us is a very important region" and that it gives them a headstart in entering other regions as well.
The Shanghai Auto Show has drawn international executives back to China for the first time since 2019, signaling the importance of the Chinese market in the global automotive industry. As Spiros Fotinos remarked, "It's amazing to be back here.
As you gaze around the exhibition hall at the Shanghai Auto Show, you can't help but be struck by the immense enthusiasm and excitement in the air. The sheer number of people present is overwhelming, a true testament to the significance of this event. Executives from BMW, including Oliver Zipse, take the stage and proudly showcase their latest innovation, the i Vision Dee, a stunning color-changing electric sports sedan. The energy in the audience is palpable, as everyone recognizes the importance of the Chinese market in shaping the future of the automotive industry.
It's clear that China is a driving force in shaping global automotive trends, and the enthusiasm and excitement at the Shanghai Auto Show are a testament to this fact.
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