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Chinese EVs' capabilities lauded in social media world

By HENG WEILI in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-05-27 09:26
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Visitors inspect BYD electric cars at the IAA Mobility 2023 international motor show in Munich on Sept 6. LEONHARD SIMON/GETTY IMAGES

Chinese electric vehicles may not exactly be popular with US politicians, but social media users are raving about them, with some posting videos that laud the EVs' capabilities.

Last week the highly influential US podcaster Joe Rogan spoke effusively of China's EVs, saying: "China has the most advanced electric-car suspension that I have ever even heard of." One model goes "over everything, and they stay flat", he said. "They don't feel anything. The car just stays flat as it's riding over all these bumps."

He called one car, the Hongqi L5, incredible, adding, "You can't even get them in America".

On May 14, the administration of Joe Biden announced it was raising tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles from 25 percent to 100 percent.

"Underlying all the rhetoric is a basic economic threat to American automakers, whose cars cost about five times as much as Chinese vehicles," Bloomberg said.

US politicians have argued that Chinese EVs are overly subsidized by China.

"The US government subsidized Tesla with $34 billion; BYD was subsidized by the Chinese government for $3.7 million," @chacebarber posted on TikTok, where he is said to have more than 833,000 followers. So the US company got subsidized much more than the Chinese company, he said.

Chace Barber is the founder and chief executive of Edison Motors, a Canadian clean technology company that makes electric semi-trucks.

"The truth is the United States is subsidizing their electric vehicles way more than China is," @chacebarber said. "I've got a theory about why we're (North America) subsidizing electric vehicles and not getting the results or the price of these ones (Chinese EVs). I think it's that North American companies are doing stupid stuff like $10 billion in share buybacks." This was a reference to a GM stock buyback in the fourth quarter of last year.

"The money isn't going to innovation like it should; the money seems to go to these bloated, bureaucratic corporations where they take the money, give it to shareholders or give it to executive bonuses or management teams that don't know how to build a car, get so complicated, convoluted, that they just can't do business competitively anymore."

The US has "put a 100 percent tariff on anyone that can outcompete them", @chacebarber said.

Someone called DYOptions posted on X on May 16 that "Chinese EVs can swim. $TSLA is in trouble".

Musk's opposition

Tesla founder Elon Musk told technology investors in Paris on Thursday that he opposed US tariffs and that he did not favor measures that distorted the market.

"Neither Tesla nor I asked for these tariffs. In fact, I was surprised when they were announced. Things that inhibit freedom of exchange or distort the market are not good," Musk told the Viva Technology conference via video link.

"Tesla competes quite well in the market in China with no tariffs and no deferential support. I'm in favor of no tariffs."

DYOptions linked to a TikTok video by @thechristopherpearce, which detailed a hybrid SUV, the Yangwang U8, the brand's largest and most expensive SUV, which can float like a boat.

"Chinese carmaker BYD made a car that can literally cross a body of water like a boat," DYOptions said. "This car comes with something called float mode. When activated, the combustion engine shuts down, the suspension gets raised to its maximum height, windows close, AC gets turned to internal circulation, and the sunroof opens."

The car can float for up to half an hour, and the wheels can be used to propel the car forward and turn in the water, DYOptions said.

Someone called S.L. Kanthan wrote to 137,000 followers on X: "Xpeng G6 is the new Chinese EV model that might present a serious challenge for Tesla Model Y."

The user listed some key features:"755 km (469 miles) of driving range with a full charge; 10 minutes of charging the battery = 300 km of driving!; 480 horsepower; meets the highest safety standards in North America and Europe; starts at $35,000; minimalist interior and aerodynamic exterior".

Agencies contributed to this story.

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