CGTN: Electric cars dominate Beijing Auto Show 2018
Electrification and autonomous driving trends continue to dominate the headlines at the Beijing Auto Show this year.
Automakers are tagging along with China's triple digit growth in new energy vehicle sales. As car makers and tech companies pour billions of dollars into the market, when will it all pay off for the average motorist?
Volkswagen is steering away from the "dieselgate" scandal with 34 billion euros in R&D, hoping to become the champion in electric cars by 2025. It is also reportedly working with Didi Chuxing on mobility services.
Nearly every brand and segment of companies will get some sort of electric offering. That includes such premium brands as Bentley, Porsche and Lamborghini.
Kim Airey, Managing Director at Bentley for the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao, said that the entire range of models offered by his company by 2025 will be hybrid or purely electric.
However, the executive admitted that it was just the start of the journey. “Internally, we have challenges to even be there, getting the hybrid Bentayga to China and get it launched, but you can see the beginning of the electrification strategy,” said Airey.
Meanwhile, Francesco Scardaoni, Managing Director at Lamborghini for the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao, said that his company is concentrating on hybrid first as well.
“Right now, we are focusing on plug-in hybrids, but we also look for the future. We just released a new concept car...” he added that this car will be purely electric, but with custom batteries for faster charging.
The battle is even fiercer in less rarefied price ranges. Nissan and BMW also want to lead the EV race. Moreover, home grown e-car models are getting in on the game. The new breed of automakers ire introducing cars as digital devices, aimed at luring millennials.
Ford is considered to be late to the game, but it is catching up according to Peter Fleet, the company’s Asia Pacific President. He said they have already started selling their EV products at the show. He also introduced the company’s future plan on EV, as the company will come up with 50 new vehicles by 2025.
“At least 15 of those will be electrified. We’ve also announced the first of our global battery electric vehicles. They will come to China and will be assembled in China,” Fleet said.
However, Doug Betts, Senior Vice President of Global Automotive at J.D. Power, sees an inflation in the demand for electric vehicles.
“There’s a lot more talk about electric cars than would be warranted, given how many are actually being sold. Generally, it’s difficult to make a profit on them, especially without being incentivized by local government,” he said, adding that the high cost of the battery is another reason.
“[A] plug-in hybrid is different, you can substitute the gasoline and you have a longer range and a smaller battery. So the cost of the battery is less of a factor in the cost of the car,” he said while explaining why he believes hybrids will continue to grow faster than pure battery electric cars.
Meanwhile, Betts said artificial intelligence hasn't become a must-have feature yet for those behind the wheel. He said that people have not realized what benefits they could have through the new technology, so they won’t pay for the features.
As smart and green mobility pick up pace, automakers will continue to navigate all the possible scenarios for future transportation. Those trials and errors will be crucial in reshaping the century-old auto industry.