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The future of driving: clean and connected

China is the largest market in the world for non-polluting vehicles, and the nation is pledged to accelerate that development in the coming years.

China is the largest market in the world for non-polluting vehicles, and the nation is pledged to accelerate that development in the coming years.

New models of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are again taking the central stage at the ongoing 2018 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, which runs through May 4.

It is themed “Steering to a New Era,” and that peek at the frontier is displaying cutting-edge industry technologies and the latest car models.

“The Beijing Auto Show is a key marketplace for new-energy vehicles,” said Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association. “Sales of electric vehicles account for a relatively high proportion of all vehicles sold in Beijing. For carmakers, the Beijing Auto Show is a showcase to attract consumers.”

In the next decade, sales of new-energy vehicle in China will grow at an average rate of 40 percent, according to consulting firm J.D. Power. More than 770,000 green vehicles were sold in China last year, a surge of 53 percent from a year earlier. By comparison, overall sales of passenger vehicles last year edged up only 1.4 percent.

During an event held before the auto show, Volkswagen announced plans to bring 15 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to China by 2020. By 2025, that number will rise to 40 locally produced models.

Ti Gong

Herbert Diess, chief executive officer of the Volkswagen Group said that Volkswagen is going to invest 10 billion euros (US$12.2 billion) in the electric car business in China.

“China is the largest market for electric vehicles,” said Herbert Diess, chief executive officer of the Volkswagen Group. “In coming years, sales of electric cars will come mainly from China. Volkswagen is going to invest 10 billion euros (US$12.2 billion) in the electric car business in China, including the launch of new models, dealerships and charging infrastructure.”

By 2021, Volkswagen said it plans to manufacture electric vehicles in more than six Chinese factories. The company will also purchase locally made batteries for its China cars.

Volkswagen is not alone. At the auto show, General Motors unveiled two green models, including a plug-in hybrid sedan called Buick Velite 6 and an electric SUV concept car called Buick Enspire.

Nissan showcased three electric vehicle models and its electrified powertrain technology at the show to highlight the company’s commitment to electrification. 

The government aims to expand the infrastructure for charging green cars to encourage more of them on the road.

Amid the green cars, sport-utility vehicles, autonomous driving, and intelligent, connected cars, the future is promising more convenience on wheels. 

As one of the most influential auto shows in China, the 2018 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition has attracted more than 1,200 exhibitors from around the world, with 1,022 vehicles from every corner. Among them, 105 are world premiers, 64 are concept cars and 174 are eco-friendly vehicles.

China, the world’s largest auto market, is important to global and domestic automakers. China is expected to sell about 30 million vehicles in 2018, up 3 percent from a year earlier, according to estimates from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

The auto industry, which has undergone dramatic changes since the first auto hit the roads more than a century ago, is considering this year the eve of a new revolution. Electric and intelligent vehicles have moved from concepts to practical application, underpinned by advanced technologies.


Jaguar Land Rover is showcasing its electric SUV called I-PACE. 

SUVs remain a hotspot

Sport-utility vehicles remain popular, if the auto show is anything to go by. According to an industry report published by WAYS Consulting Co, about 82 new SUV models were rolled out for this year’s exhibitionSport-utilities are expected to remain a primary source of growth for China’s auto market in the next five years, according to consulting firm McKinsey & Co. In 2022, one of every two cars sold in China will be an SUV, underpinned by upgrades, launches of new models and a large number of first-time car buyers.

“The competition will become fiercer in the premium sport-utility segment,” said Ting Wu, a partner at McKinsey.

Premium carmakers that include Volvo, Jaguar Land Rover and Lexus had sport-utility lines on exhibit at the auto show. Volvo debuted a vehicle called the XC40, calling it a strong contributor to further sales growth.

“The new XC40 model is important for Volvo and will be launched in the China market soon,” the company said.

Jaguar Land Rover is showcasing its compact SUV called E-PACE and an electric SUV called I-PACE. The UK premium carmaker announced that the E-PACE model will appear in China by the end of this year. Targeting young consumers, it will be manufactured at its Changshu joint-venture plant under Chery Jaguar Land Rover.

With a week left of the auto show, visitors can access the China International Exhibition Center by taking Beijing Metro Line 15. Admission fee varies from 30 yuan to 100 yuan depending on different time periods.

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