China shaping up to be epicentre of the auto industry’s electric charge and more, says GlobalData

In the week that sees the opening of this year’s major motor show – Auto Shanghai – in the world’s largest car market, electric cars and concepts will be showcased by many manufacturers.

Dave Leggett, Automotive Editor at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his predictions:

“After declining for the first time since 1990 in 2018, another car market decline in China is highly likely this year.

“However, the month of March’s fall was lower than that of the first two months and sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs – plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles) rose by 85% to 126,000 units, driven by sales quota requirements for manufacturers, which have resulted in a wave of new product coming to market.

“We’re sure to see plenty of new electric cars and concepts at Auto Shanghai and there are a number of major new introductions coming which will heighten consumer interest still further in electric cars – and they illustrate the significant role that non-Chinese partners play in Chinese manufacturing joint ventures.

“Volkswagen, for example, is planning a large electric SUV for 2021. Audi has also just confirmed that its e-tron will also be made in China, alongside an electrified and stretched version of the Q2 SUV which has been developed specifically for the Chinese market. And Renault will show its City K-ZE which will be built with Dongfeng in a new JV.

“It’s not just electric vehicles that Beijing wants to encourage though. The big idea is for China to be at the heart of an expanded ecosystem for urban mobility – embracing carsharing, autonomous and electric drive – with as much of the new supply chains as possible for these increasingly interconnected elements developed inside China.

“The ambitions are clear and China has the advantage of scale as well as a proactive attitude from government that is interested in global competitiveness. Beijing wants China to be a global tech leader rather than follower – it has been a follower historically in automotive.

“While China still wants foreign help developing sophisticated technologies – such as electric cars – in joint ventures, indigenous capabilities are rising rapidly as domestic companies become more accomplished and invest more in advanced technologies.”

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