Electric Vehicles Take the Spotlight at 2020 Beijing Auto Show
Matthew Greenwood posted on October 16, 2020 |
There was no shortage of EVs at the first COVID-era automotive exhibition.
(Image courtesy of Canton Fair.)
(Image courtesy of Canton Fair.)

The Beijing Auto Show finally took place—five months after it was originally scheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s show took on additional importance because so many other premiere shows have been canceled due to the coronavirus. 

And from the looks of it, the Chinese auto sector is fully committed to maintaining its edge as one of the largest electric vehicle (EV) markets in the world—in close competition with Europe. The country also seems intent on leading the way in EV innovation and development. It doesn’t hurt that the Chinese government has imposed sales quotas designed to foster EV development and use in the country.

Here are some of the standouts in a crowded field of promising electric vehicles showcased at the event.

Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid Executive

(Image courtesy of Porsche.)
(Image courtesy of Porsche.)

China is the Panamera’s biggest market—about a third of all models are sold there. So it’s only natural that the German auto company would unveil its hybrid Panamera at the Beijing show.

This model has a 17.9 kWh battery—a significant boost over previous iterations. And it pairs a 134-horsepower electric motor with a 2.9-liter V-6 twin turbo gasoline engine, which together can generate 552 horsepower. The luxury car can go from 0 to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds.

Hongqi E-HS9

(Image courtesy of Motor1.)
(Image courtesy of Motor1.)

China’s oldest carmaker brought out its E-HS9 luxury SUV, which is said to be the most expensive vehicle in China with a price tag at over $80,000—with the top-end model coming in at $110,000. The massive SUV, created by a former Rolls-Royce designer, is equipped with a 92.5 kWh battery that gives the EV a range of 300 miles per charge. 

The E-HS9 comes in two power configurations, both employing two electric motors—one for each axle. The lower-end model is equipped with two 218-horsepower engines, while the higher-end boasts a 218-horsepower motor at the front axle and a 333-horsepower motor at the rear. Hongqi claims that the more powerful variant can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in under four seconds.

Honda SUV E:Concept

(Image courtesy of Honda.)
(Image courtesy of Honda.)

Honda introduced its SUV E:Concept all-electric sport utility vehicle concept, which would eventually be the company’s first EV for the Chinese market. The SUV will be equipped with the cutting-edge Honda Sensing intelligent safety and driver’s assistant system.

Chevrolet Menlo

(Image courtesy of Elective.)
(Image courtesy of Elective.)

The American carmaker introduced its Menlo electric compact SUV, built exclusively for the Chinese market, earlier this year—and showcased it at the Beijing show. A larger variant of the Chevy Bolt EV sold in North America, the Menlo has a 250-mile range, a 147-horsepower motor and a 52.5 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery that can be recharged to 80 percent capacity in 40 minutes using a fast DC charger. The Menlo has three driving modes and three energy recovery modes to accommodate a variety of driving styles and energy consumption preferences.

Neta Eureka 03 Sedan Concept

(Image courtesy of Hearstapps.)
(Image courtesy of Hearstapps.)

Neta is making waves by taking aim at Tesla—and its Eureka 03 concept lays the groundwork for a midsize sedan that would compete with the Tesla Model 3 starting in 2022. The company claims that its finished product will have a range of almost 500 miles and will be able to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in four seconds. The vehicle boasts a sleek design that includes small cameras which replace the side view mirrors and cutting-edge wheels that are designed to improve the car’s aerodynamics—as well as a Level 4 autonomous driving system. 

The carmaker is being coy about the technical details under the vehicle’s hood, but if those performance numbers are to be believed, the Tesla Model 3 will have its hands full with this homegrown Chinese rival—which seems destined to only be sold domestically in China.

Polestar Precept

(Image courtesy of Polestar.)
(Image courtesy of Polestar.)

Polestar is a joint company founded by Sweden’s Volvo and China’s Geely auto companies, which already has its Polestar 2 EV available in Europe and China.

The company showcased its new offering, the Precept, at Beijing 2020. This concept car will feature many interior and exterior components made with Bcomp’s flax-based composite material, which reduces weight and cuts down on plastics use while improving impact resistance and vibration dampening—at comparable levels to carbon fiber materials.

The Precept is also seamlessly integrated with Google services and boasts a sophisticated human-machine interface that tracks the driver’s eye movements and hand gestures, responding with relevant information.

Polestar hasn’t made the Precept’s performance specifications public yet but announced that the vehicle will be produced in China at a carbon-neutral factory still in development.

Ford Mustang Mach-E SUV

(Image courtesy of Ford.)
(Image courtesy of Ford.)

Another American carmaker looking to expand its presence in China, Ford showcased what it calls its “smart EV” Mustang Mach-E SUV. The Mustang features an all-wheel drive and an electric motor that pumps out 346 horsepower. Ford claims that the Mach-E can go from 0 to 60 mph in three seconds.

The vehicle has an extended-range battery that gives the Mustang a range of over 300 miles per charge. And with a fast charger, the SUV will be able to recover over 60 miles of driving range in 10 minutes.

Hongqi S9 Hybrid Supercar

(Image courtesy of Motor1.)
(Image courtesy of Motor1.)

This hypercar concept isn’t for the faint of heart—or the light of wallet. The S9 made its domestic debut at the Beijing show after first coming on stage at last year’s Frankfurt auto show. The beast has an electrified V8 engine capable of generating 1,400 horsepower that would get it from 0 to 62 mph in a blistering 1.9 seconds and would give it a top speed of 249 mph. The S9 makes extensive use of carbon fiber materials in its construction. Little is known at this time about the car’s battery, or what kind of electric motor (or motors) would work with its gasoline V8 engine.

The vehicle on display was a preview of the production model that will have a limited run of 70 units … and a price tag of $1.4 million each. Hongqi plans to begin production as early as next year.

Beijing Auto Show Could Boost Flagging Automotive Sector

The world’s biggest auto market was already slumping before it took a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. The show itself reflects that: 785 vehicles were put on display compared to the almost 1,500 that were showcased at the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show. But domestic and foreign auto companies evidently still saw the show as an opportunity to promote their brands: almost 100 carmakers participated this year, which isn’t that far off from the 125 that took part in the previous show. However, notably, several of the country’s EV startups were absent from the 2020 event.Beijing Auto Show opens under COVID-19 restrictions.

Despite being a smaller event than the previous show, analysts still think the Beijing 2020 Auto Show could inject some momentum into the sector’s plodding recovery—with EVs leading the way. And for those outside the Chinese market looking in, it provides a tantalizing glimpse of the potential of EVs around the world.

“The electrical market in general, like the whole automotive market, is a highly competitive market,” said Porsche China CEO Jens Puttfarcken. “Especially here in China where we see here a lot of brands that are unknown to the rest of the world, building up very interesting products and very highly sophisticated technologies.”

Read more about how China’s electric vehicle market has been impacted by recent global events at European Electric Car Market Passes China’s For First Time in Five Years.

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