Brands from across world flex NEV muscle on stage

BYD’s Fang Cheng Bao showcases the Super 9 concept model at the 2024 Beijing auto show. [LI FUSHENG/CHINA DAILY]

After a four-year hiatus, the Beijing auto show returns with a flurry of new products, particularly new energy vehicles, presented by global automakers, who aim to solidify their position in the world’s most competitive and largest auto market.

Running from Thursday to May 4, the event is hosting the world premieres of 41 concept models and 117 vehicles, with 30 from international brands. A total of 278 NEVs are on display, surpassing the 160 from the last edition in 2020, according to the event organizers.

The proportion of NEVs surpassing gasoline cars appears to be happening faster than anticipated. Data from the China Passenger Car Association show that in the first two weeks of April, passenger NEV sales accounted for more than 50 percent of the market share, with 260,000 units sold out of a total of 516,000 passenger cars.

Premium brands BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi are showcasing their achievements in electrification.

BWM’s electric i4 hatchback and electric MINI Cooper and Aceman crossover SUV are taking center stage. The BMW Vision Neue Klasse, which heralds the next generation of BMW vehicles, is on show for the first time in China.

BMW Group CEO Oliver Zipse announced plans to invest an additional 20 billion yuan ($2.76 billion) in the Shenyang production base in Liaoning province on Friday. The investment will support the localization production of BMW’s Neue Klasse models starting in 2026.

Mercedes debuted the all-new electric G-Class 4×4 and the Concept CLA Class four-door coupe. Their stage fleet consists of one world-premiere model, seven China-premiere models and eight models that are ready to hit the market.

Audi CEO Gernot Doellner made his first public appearance in China at this year’s Beijing auto show. The automaker debuted the all-new Audi Q6L e-tron SUV, the first vehicle tailored for the Chinese market based on the PPE premium electric platform.

This car, along with other new models based on the PPE, will be produced at the new factory in Changchun in Jilin province, underscoring China’s strategic position for Audi, he said.

However, their customers are being poached by newcomers. When Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun toured the Nio booth, he said that 30 percent of Xiaomi’s car owners had previously owned vehicles from the German trio. Nio CEO William Li said 70-80 percent of Nio’s car owners were from BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

Lei announced that it had received more than 75,000 orders in the four weeks since the launch of its first car, the SU7 electric sedan. It aims to deliver more than 10,000 units in June.

At Huawei’s booth of HIMA, which stands for Harmony Intelligent Mobility Alliance, its Stelato brand, codeveloped with BAIC, debuted at the auto show, joining the Aito and Luxeed brands. The brand’s first model S9 sedan is expected to hit the market in the second half of this year.

The IT giant is also showcasing the Aito M5, M7, M9 SUVs and Luxeed S7 sedan, which are already on sale. According to Huawei data, as of April 22, the HIMA family has sold 105,000 vehicles this year.

Besides codeveloped models, Huawei’s Qiankun, which is called the most sophisticated advanced driving assistance system to date, has garnered attention. Seven Chinese brands including Changan’s Avatr, Dongfeng’s Voyah and BAIC’s Arcfox have installed Huawei’s Qiankun in their cars.

Nio unveiled the all-new ET7, continuing its push into the luxury sedan market to solidify its position as a premium brand. Starting at 428,000 yuan, the ET7 Executive Edition is available for pre-order with deliveries beginning on Tuesday.

The startup is maintaining its focus on advancements in charging and battery swap technologies too.

Xpeng said its software and artificial intelligence training upgrades will enter a “superfast cycle” from May, which will be upgraded with its X9 MPV, G9 and G6 SUVs as well as P7i sedan. The automaker hopes the platform will help it expand to other Asian countries and Europe.

He Xiaopeng, founder and CEO of the automaker now backed by Volkswagen, said the software will be refreshed every two months.

Chinese traditional automakers have launched NEV sub-brands, marking a significant transformation.

At the auto show, FAW’s Hongqi presented three sub-brands, including the Hongqi New Energy. Dongfeng Motor is showcasing models under its multiple brands such as M-Hero, Voyah and Nammi. Meanwhile, Great Wall Motors is presenting models under its brands of Wey, Tank, Poer and Ora with technological achievements in NEVs.

GAC Group is displaying models of its Trumpchi, Aion and Hyper brands. The automaker will integrate Huawei’s Qiankun system into flagship models under the Trumpchi brand, with the first model expected to launch in January 2025.

Global car producers in launch fever for NEV models at Beijing auto show



Photo: Li Hao/GT

Photo: Li Hao/GT

After a four-year absence of its offline show, China’s largest auto show, or 2024 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, which kicked off in Beijing on Thursday, has regained global attention. Global players such as Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz are signaling their entry into NEVs on a large scale, highlighting their confidence in the Chinese market. 

Such moves are in contrast with the so-called “overcapacity” cited by some US officials, which primarily pertains to industries such as electric vehicles (EVs). Chinese market observers said that it’s groundless to hype the overcapacity narrative, because the production capacity of NEVs to meet consumers’ upgrading demand remains insufficient. 

A total of 44 models from the Volkswagen Group’s brands are on display at the ongoing show, 11 of which are making their debuts, according to information that Volkswagen Group shared with the Global Times. Among the total, there are 18 NEV models.

The group said it is accelerating the process of electrification. Starting from 2026, at least eight pure electric models specially developed for the Chinese local market will be launched. By 2030, the group will provide at least 30 pure electric models in the Chinese market. 

Such moves are shared by other global players. BMW and MINI, the two brands under the BMW Group, brought their new models on Thursday, including BMW’s BEV model- the new BMW i4 had its world premiere, and MINI’s first all-electric crossover – the all new, all electric MINI Aceman, also made its world debut in Beijing.

Electrification, digitalization and sustainable development are the current major trends in the automobile industry. The BMW Group’s goal is to achieve more than 50 percent of sales from electric vehicles by 2030, said Oliver Zipse, chairman of the board of BMW AG, in Beijing on Wednesday night. 

Mercedes-Benz brought 21 new models to the show, including the world’s first pure electric G-Class off-road vehicle. Maybach’s first mass-produced pure electric model, the Maybach EQS pure electric sport utility vehicle, hit the Chinese market at the show. 


Photo: Li Hao/GT

Photo: Li Hao/GT



China is the world’s second-largest market for G-class off-road vehicles. We will increase our input in the Chinese market and build our electric era with Chinese speed, said Hubertus Troska, member of the board of Mercedes-Benz Group AG.

Automakers from China and abroad are set to unveil 117 new models versus 93 at last year’s show in Shanghai, while a total of 278 NEVs will go on display, seven more than last year, according to the organizers.

The timing of the show comes as China’s NEV market shows fast development. Data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed that NEVs accounted for 30 percent of cars sold in China in the first two months of this year.

“Four years ago, when I came here, the NEV models of Chinese brands accounted for a large part of the show, but this time, many foreign companies are actively promoting their NEV products,” a visitor surnamed Li told the Global Times on Thursday. 

The fever of foreign car producers for NEVs in China is in contrast with the so-called overcapacity hype by some Western countries, in which they focus on the growth of Chinese manufacturing in new industries represented by EVs, lithium-ion batteries and solar panels.

There is no such thing as “overcapacity” in China’s NEV sector. As a matter of fact, the production capacity of NEVs to meet consumers’ upgrading demand remains insufficient, Wu Shuocheng, a veteran automobile analyst, told the Global Times on Thursday.

“I do not think that China has excess capacity. It’s better to look at the China’s NEV market from a dynamic and developmental perspective. Through market competition, there will be elimination of outdated production capacity in the sector,” Wu said.

The Ministry of Commerce also slammed so-called overcapacity on Thursday. He Yadong, spokesperson of the ministry, said that the issue of production capacity must be based on the background of economic globalization, and fully consider the reality of the global division of labor and international markets.

From a global perspective, there is no overcapacity, but rather a shortage in the new-energy sector. Currently, the development of green, low-carbon and environmentally friendly new energy is an important global response to climate change, He said. 

Global players all emphasize the importance of the Chinese market, and they bolster their competitive positions through local partnerships and innovation.

Volkswagen Group said that it is focusing on its local development capacities and its partnerships with local tech companies and manufacturers such as Horizon Robotics, Thundersoft and XPENG.

“We are accelerating our electric offensive with additional products for new segments. In this way, we are taking advantage of opportunities in the rapidly growing e-market,” Ralf Brandstätter, board member for the China region and CEO of Volkswagen Group China, told the Global Times.

Photo: Li Hao/GT

Photo: Li Hao/GT