Automakers Benefit from China's SUV Boom
14 Avril 2015 - Automotive News
The Shanghai auto show will be the perfect place to gauge the intensity of the SUV battle between the global and Chinese automakers. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Citroen and Honda have announced global debuts of SUVs or crossovers at the show, which opens April 20, and other automakers are sure to follow.
The SUV market is one of the few product segments in which Chinese automakers are successfully challenging foreign rivals for market share. Great Wall Motor and Jianghuai Automobile have cut sedan output to build more SUVs, while global players are racing to launch more SUVs.
Lin Huaibin, an analyst with IHS Automotive in Shanghai, predicts SUVs will generate more than one-third of China's passenger vehicle sales by 2025.
Chinese car buyers like SUVs for their dynamic styling and high seating positions, Lin said. "They like the feeling of lording it over other cars when they are driving an SUV."
China's SUV sales have grown at a rate of 30 percent annually since 2008 despite a slowdown of the overall market. More than 4 million SUVs were sold in China last year, accounting for 28 percent of total passenger vehicle deliveries. SUV sales in China jumped 36 percent last year and in the first two months of this year, deliveries soared 46 percent.
Here's a summary of key vehicle introductions planned for the show, which opens April 20.
Audi will debut a third Prologue concept car that previews its next A6 Allroad due to launch in 2018, a report said. The concept will build on the styling themes of the two-door Prolouge Coupe shown at the Los Angeles show in November and the five-door Prologue Avant unveiled at the Geneva show in March, the UK magazine Autocar said.
The BMW X5 xDrive40e, a plug-in hybrid SUV, will have its global debut. The all-wheel-drive vehicle is powered by a twin-turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an electric motor with a combined output of 313 hp.
Changan will unveil a midsize electric "performance" sedan. The electric motor, which generates 335 Nm of torque, will accelerate the vehicle from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds.
The Aircross is a plug-in hybrid cross-over concept with styling reminiscent of the C4 Cactus. The car features two 12-inch HD screens, one of which is detachable and can be passed from one passenger to another. Each seat has a speaker and microphone to make it easier for passengers to chat with one another. Citroen says it is debuting the Aircross in Shanghai because China is now its single biggest market.
Ford will introduce a new Taurus designed, built and sold only in China. The vehicle will be the Ford brand's flagship car in China, but the company did not indicate whether the Taurus would have an extended wheelbase.
Geely will unveil a concept sporty sedan designed by Peter Horbury, former design director of Volvo. The car will be added to the company's Emgrand product lineup.
Great Wall will launch a coupe version of its Haval H6 compact SUV. The coupe is a production model. On its website, Great Wall claims it is the first coupe developed by a Chinese automaker. Great Wall, China's leading SUV producer, will reintroduce its flagship Haval H8 SUV at the show. The automaker suspended H8 deliveries last year after customers heard "knocking noises" at high speeds. The H8 carries a starting price of $32,950.
Honda plans to debut a concept SUV that is customized for the Chinese market. The production version will be fitted with Honda's FUNTEC powertrain and infotainment. A sketch released by Honda shows a low-slung SUV with a dramatic side crease, bold chrome nose shield, plunging grille and sliver-thin pinpoint headlights that hint at LED technology.
Honda sells 15 models in China. Three of those -- the CR-V, Vezel and X-RV SUVs -- generated 40 percent of Honda's China sales last month.
Lexus, which lags its rivals in China, aims to boost its profile with the global debut of the freshened ES sedan.
Mercedes will introduce a concept four-door GLC coupe. The crossover will be the little brother of the GLE coupe that goes on sale late this year.
Nissan will unveil its new Lannia midsize sedan, which draws on the swoopy, heavily creased styling of the Friend-ME and Lannia concepts that debuted at China shows in 2013 and 2014. Nissan is dubbing the vehicle the company's "first project led by Chinese for Chinese." The car gets Nissan's new V-motion grille and boomerang-shaped headlamps.
SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile will show the Baojun 560 compact SUV, the brand's first SUV. According to Chinese media, the Baojun 560 is built on the Buick Excelle platform, and it will be fitted with a 1.8-liter engine and a five-speed manual transmission.
Toyota is showcasing new, locally developed hybrid powertrains in its Corolla and Levin models.