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Chinese automakers stand out at Geneva

By CAO YINGYING | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-04 09:47
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The IM L6 sedan is debuted at the 2024 Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland from Feb 27 to March 3. MARTIAL TREZZINI/AP

At the 2024 Geneva Motor Show which concluded on Sunday, Chinese automakers, driven by a desire to expand their global presence, showcased products and technologies and took the spotlight at one of Europe's premier auto shows.

SAIC Motor's MG and IM brands showcased 10 electric models, including world premieres of the IM L6 sedan and the MG3 hybrid compact, at the motor show.

The IM L6 sedan, to hit the market later this year, features 0-100 kilometers per hour acceleration of around two seconds and a maximum range exceeding 1,000 km on one charge, according to IM.

Also backed by Alibaba, the four-year-old IM brand presented all four models at the event, saying it will venture into the premium intelligent vehicle market in major overseas countries this year.

The IM L7 and LS7 will debut in emerging markets such as Mexico, the Middle East, South America and Southeast Asia this year. In 2025, the LS6 and L6 will be launched globally.

Liu Tao, co-CEO of IM, said that SAIC's robust overseas marketing network, mature management model and international collaborations have enabled the rapid initiation of the young brand's overseas expansion plans.

Founded in Britain a century ago, MG made the global debut of the MG3 PEV, with plans for it to be launched first in Europe.

The model is expected to become another overseas best-seller for the brand following the MG4 EV, which had a cumulative overseas sales of 140,000 units in more than 80 countries and regions in 2023.

Zhao Aimin, deputy general manager of SAIC International, said that the company plans to introduce 14 intelligent EVs into global market in the next two years, based on the lessons learned from MG4 EV's global research and development.

The Shanghai-based automaker exported 80,000 vehicles in January, up 20 percent year-on-year. Its 2023 exports reached 1.21 million, ranking first among Chinese automakers for the eighth consecutive year.

The NEV giant BYD showcased eight models at the Geneva Motor Show and debuted its luxury brand — Yangwang — in Europe. The Yangwang U8 plug-in hybrid SUV, which can make a complete turn on the spot thanks to four electric motors, attracted widespread attention at the event and is to retail for over 1 million yuan ($139,000).

BYD also showcased its self-developed DM-i super hybrid technology to European consumers for the first time. It featured the Seal U DM-i SUV, which is to hit the European market in the second quarter.

"Sixteen years ago, we unveiled the first generation of DM technology at the Geneva Motor Show. After several rounds of technological iterations, we are presenting the innovative DM-i super hybrid technology. European consumers will experience the many advantages of this power technology," Shu Youxing, general manager of BYD's European sales division, said at the show.

Since announcing its entry into the European passenger vehicle market in September 2022, BYD has expanded its presence to 19 countries and regions in Europe, including Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Norway with more than 250 stores opened.

The century-old Geneva Motor Show, which was suspended for four years due to the pandemic, has lost some of its significance with fewer than 10 automakers participating this year. But the subdued atmosphere at this year's show presents an opportunity for Chinese brands to stand out.

With the shift to electrification, European automakers are not only struggling in the Chinese market but face threats on their home turf. Chinese manufacturers are expanding overseas, particularly in Europe, where there is robust demand for NEVs, said industry experts.

Luca de Meo, CEO of Renault, the only main European automaker who attended the motor show, said that Europe lags behind China in terms of access to materials, their refining and gigafactory capacity. He said "to create the power and the scale that China has achieved on EVs", it has to do more.

European carmakers and energy suppliers need to collaborate more to catch up with China in terms of the size of its EV sector, he added.

The French automaker unveiled the new electric R5 compact at the show, with a starting price of 25,000 euros ($27,050). The retro hatchback has a maximum range of 400 km and three power options.

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