The “Shanghai Motor Show” reached its final day on April 27. The show is said to be one of the world’s largest trade fairs for new models, and was held in a vast exhibition space that is about eight times the size of the Tokyo Dome.
During the 10 days from its opening on April 18, more than 1,000 companies, including major automakers, participated in the show, and more than 100 new models were unveiled for the first time in the world. The show was a great success, with more than 250,000 people visiting the show on the 22nd and 23rd, the only weekend of the show period.
The most popular topic at the motor show was the competition in the development of electric vehicles (EVs). The evolution of EVs shows no signs of slowing down, and a variety of models were unveiled, including those with a top speed approaching 300 km/h, those with a range of 700 km on a single charge, and those with high power output that can accelerate to 100 km/h in less than 2 seconds. Automotive journalist Kumiko Kato, who covered the event on site, commented, “I strongly felt that the sales price was low.
In Japan, people tend to think that EVs are still expensive, have unusual designs, and are not for ordinary people to own, but this is not the case in China and Europe, where EVs are big sellers. In order to capture the general purchasing public, a number of new models have been announced that are priced the same as gasoline-powered cars.
Among these, there is one Chinese manufacturer that is leading the EV industry. That is BYD.
Last year, BYD sold 1.86 million EVs, surpassing Tesla (U.S.) to become the world’s top seller in the EV market. This time, the company unveiled a new model called SEAGULL. Although it is a compact EV the size of a mini-car, it has a cruising range of approximately 400 km on a single charge thanks to its unique “blade battery”. The price is kept at 78,800 yuan (about 1.5 million yen).
In China, there has been a price war, as evidenced by the explosive success of the 28,800 RMB (approximately 540,000 yen) Hongguang MINIEV launched by SAIC Wuling Automobile. On the other hand, Toyota, Japan’s leading automaker, is competing on the basis of performance.
Toyota is now working with BYD, a leading Japanese automaker, to develop a new model that will be a hit in the market. Toyota unveiled the bZ3, which was developed in partnership with BYD. Its battery, which can run 640 km on a single charge, is attractive. Volkswagen of Germany, Europe’s top seller of passenger cars, has also unveiled the ID.7, which boasts a range of 700 km, and technological innovation will continue in the future with regard to cruising range, which is an important factor in evaluating EVs,” said the same source.
The EV market is becoming increasingly polarized between price competition and performance specialization. What kind of future awaits us? Mr. Kato predicts.
Both BYD and Tesla have had problems with fires caused by defective batteries, and the environment, including charging stations, is still in its infancy. Nevertheless, as Tesla has announced that it will increase its annual production of EVs from the current 1.3 million units to 20 million units by the year 2020, there is no doubt that the number of EVs will continue to increase in the future. In addition, “SEAGULL” and “Hong Kong MINIEV” are becoming more familiar to us as well, as they are planned to be sold in Japan within a few years.
In addition, I believe that the implementation of automatic driving in EVs will also progress in the future. EVs, which are electronically controlled, have a much greater affinity with automatic driving technology than conventional cars. I think the evolution of EVs will continue.
Everyone will be able to drive EVs safely and naturally. Such a future may be just around the corner.
From the May 12 and 19, 2023 issue of FRIDAY
PHOTO： Hiroto Kato