Business

Friday 17 August 2018

Electric cars on show at Beijing exhibition

The Qiantu Motor Concept 1 electric vehicle stands on display at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition in Beijing, China. Photo: Bloomberg
The Qiantu Motor Concept 1 electric vehicle stands on display at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition in Beijing, China. Photo: Bloomberg

Tian Ying

The Beijing International Automotive Exhibition is a barometer of the state of the world's biggest passenger-vehicle market. New cars are launched, startups vie for attention against their multinational rivals.

This year's show is significant for some key reasons: China is beginning to open up its auto market after two decades of restrictions on how much foreigners can own in local car ventures; electric vehicles are beginning to gain steam; and there's the looming threat of a trade war.

Porsche may have built its race-car reputation on two-seaters like the 911, but it's been SUVs like the Cayenne that have made China the top market for the German luxury car maker. Now sales of the smaller cars are starting to take off too.

While there's no room for the chauffeur, "demand for our two-door sports cars, the 718 Cayman and Boxster, is developing extremely well", according to head of sales Detlev von Platen.

From ultra-luxury to sleek and speedy, it was all there. A plethora of electric SUVs, some startlingly striking grills and a particularly interesting paint job are among the exhibits. The race to an all-electric future is more evident than ever, as startups take on their multinational rivals in a bid to attract eyeballs.

China's policies are boosting a rapid move toward electric vehicles in the world's biggest car market as new technologies emerge, Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer said.

"This whole show is revolving around what they call new energy vehicles, but Chinese policy is very much driving the move towards electric cars and certainly Aston has to go with that flow," Palmer said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

"We're probably in the biggest change in the automotive industry since we moved from horse to car."

China FAW Group, the carmaker that developed the Hongqi, or Red Flag, limousine for Chairman Mao Zedong six decades ago, unveiled the E-Jing GT electric sports car concept at the show Wednesday.

The sleek, two-door model was presented in a turquoise-green hue the carmaker calls Kanas Green - a name apparently inspired by the Kanas Lake area in China's northwestern Xinjiang province. (Bloomberg)

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