City in the fast lane with high-quality auto industries

Huang Yixuan
Shanghai, as a major economic powerhouse of China, has been spearheading the high-quality development of the country's automobile industry.
Huang Yixuan

Editor's note:

High-quality growth, the most-mentioned phrase during the Two Sessions, will keep guiding China's new route of development. As a bellwether city, Shanghai takes a model role in mapping out growth of high quality, and here is what we find in different sectors of our life.

City in the fast lane with high-quality auto industries
Dong Jun / SHINE

Shanghai, as a major economic powerhouse of China, has been spearheading the country's high-quality development of the automobile industry, which is set to continue in the coming years.

Shanghai's automobile industry has benefited from the city's robust manufacturing capabilities, technological innovation, and excellent transportation infrastructure.

With a large pool of skilled workers and advanced manufacturing equipments, Shanghai has become a hub for automobile production as well as research and development.

According to the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Informatization, the city's automobile industry has shown impressive growth in recent years, with a comprehensive supply chain that includes eight major automakers and more than 600 primary auto parts companies.

In 2022, Shanghai's automotive production exceeded 3 million vehicles, with a combined output value of the automotive industry surpassing 800 billion yuan (US$116 billion). This accounts for 20 percent of the city's entire industrial output of enterprises above designated size, it noted.

Han Dadong, director of the smart manufacturing promotion division of the commission, sees smart manufacturing and automotives as the two "advantageous tracks" in Shanghai.

He said that the automotive field has always been at the forefront of the intelligent manufacturing industry development and smart factory construction.

It will accelerate the development of high-end, intelligent and green manufacturing.

The city boasted 100 smart factories by the end of last year, out of which 22 belonged to the automotive industry. It also pledged to build more than 200 demonstration smart factories by 2025, including many car making plants, to push the automotive industry's high-quality development.

City in the fast lane with high-quality auto industries
Dong Jun / SHINE

A highlight in the city's automobile industry is its leading position in the new-energy vehicle (NEV) market, especially in recent years when electrification has become a global trend for auto makers.

Thanks to the Chinese government's efforts to reduce emissions and promote sustainable development, the NEV market has been growing rapidly in recent years.

According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, NEV production in China exceeded 7 million units in 2022. Shanghai, meanwhile, has emerged as a leader in the production of NEVs, with a notable concentration of NEV manufacturers located within the city.

One of the leading companies in the industry is SAIC Motor, a Shanghai-based auto giant, which has maintained its position as the topseller in China for 17 consecutive years. Its independent brands have a strong foothold in the market, with sales accounting for a significant portion of the domestic market share.

The group's NEV sales are at the forefront of the global market, among which its overseas sales have experienced significant growth, maintaining the top spot domestically for seven years. This makes SAIC the first Chinese company to sell more than 1 million NEVs in both the domestic and overseas markets.

At this year's Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition held from April 18 to 29, the group takes center stage to showcase more than 130 new vehicles from six of its flagship brands and joint ventures. These include IM Motors, Rising Auto, SAIC Motor Passenger Vehicle, SAIC Maxus, SAIC Volkswagen, and SAIC-GM. It occupies the entire third hall of the venue with a total display area of over 20,000 square meters.

As a highlight, SAIC unveiled its "Three-Year Plan for the Development of New Energy Vehicles" at the auto show.

The ambitious plan aims to achieve an annual sales volume of 3.5 million NEVs by 2025, which is 2.5 times higher than the projected sales volume for 2022.

The plan also sets a target of a 50 percent annual compound growth rate, with SAIC's self-branded vehicles accounting for 70 percent of the total sales volume of NEVs.

As a flagship brand under SAIC, IM Motors was founded in Shanghai, developed in Shanghai, and based in Shanghai, and focuses on building high-end pure electric intelligent vehicles.

It noted that IM LS7, which just began nationwide deliveries in early March, successfully ranked among the top three in delivery volume for China's pure electric SUVs above 300,000 yuan in its first month.

Apart from SAIC, Shanghai has also been the birthplace for several other notable NEV companies.

NIO Inc, as an example, is a pioneer and a leading company in the premium smart electric vehicle market.

Founded in 2014 in Shanghai, the company now has its NIO international business headquarters as well as the global R&D center for production models settled in the city's Shanghai Automobile Innovation Park, responsible for corporate operations and user services.

Shanghai is also home to the regional headquarters of foreign auto brands as well as a number of promising start-ups. These companies have together been driving the growth of Shanghai's NEV market and contributing to the city's high-quality development of the automobile industry.

City in the fast lane with high-quality auto industries
Dong Jun / SHINE

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