Chengdu Motor Show: Competing in Price, Technology, and Niche Markets

After experiencing multiple rounds of price reductions, the supply and demand in the automotive market are both shifting towards a more rational direction this year. The China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) previously predicted that the strong promotions in the first half of the year disrupted the normal price trend in the car market, and it would take some time for terminal prices to recover. In addition, the excessive promotional efforts in the second quarter may lead to a consumption overdraft effect on car buyers in the second half of the year, potentially weakening the effectiveness of trading volume for lower prices. Considering their achievements in the first half of the year, automobile companies may optimize their market expectations, product structure, and new vehicle launch pace during this period as they enter a phase of consolidation.

On August 25th, the 26th Chengdu Motor Show (referred to as “Chengdu Motor Show”) opened. Official data shows that a total of 129 automobile brands participated in this auto show, exhibiting nearly 1600 vehicles, including 68 debut models. New energy vehicle brands have successively launched products, technologies, and price strategies, further intensifying competition within the industry. Fuel vehicle brands are accelerating their transition towards electrification by launching new energy products to seize the market. Although the peak of the “price war” has passed, it continues to bring challenges to the automotive industry.

The similarity with the 20th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition is that at the Chengdu Motor Show, the exhibition hall for new energy brands still has the highest foot traffic.

This year’s motor show has set up two new energy halls, with emerging car manufacturers such as Li Auto, NIO, XPENG, Leapmotor, NETA Auto, and HiPhi participating alongside traditional automakers like VOYAH, Zeekr, IM Motors, Rising Auto, AVATR, ORA, ARCFOX, AITO, GAC AION and DEEPAL. It is worth noting that “NIO, XPENG, Li Auto” did not compete on the same stage this time. NIO and XPENG‘s booths were concentrated in Hall 10 while the booth for Li Auto was located in Hall 11.

During the show, the all-new NIO EC6, developed on NIO‘s NT2.0 platform, made its debut. The new vehicle adopts the latest family design language and upgrades its intelligent driving capabilities. IM LS6, a new mid-to-large-sized pure electric SUV model by IM Motors, had its first appearance with prices dropping below 300,000 Yuan (41,175 US Dollar). The AVATR 11 EV Hongmeng Edition was unveiled for the first time, equipped with a customized Hongmeng cockpit and Huawei’s advanced ADS 2.0 smart driving system, priced between 300,000 and 390,000 Yuan (41,175 and 53,522 US Dollar). ArcFox Koala officially started pre-sales with four models available at a pre-sale price range of 133,800 to 171,800 Yuan ( 18,401 to 23,583 US Dollar) and will begin deliveries in late September. Li Auto announced that their first pure electric MPV Ideal MEGA will be released in December this year and deliveries will start in February next year. XPENG, Zeekr, Leapmotor, NETA Auto were among other brands showcasing their full product lineups.

The No. 3 Hall, where BYD, an independent new energy brand, is located, is also a popular exhibition hall at this year’s auto show. On the first day of the exhibition (August 25th), BYD successively released the B-class hunting SUV Song L that competes with Tesla Model Y and started pre-sales of its mid-size hybrid sedan Ocean DM-i on Haiyang; its professional personalized brand, Fangcheng Leopard, officially launched its first strategic model Fang Cheng Bao Leopard 5 and opened blind orders for the new car at a price range of 300,000 to 400,000 Yuan ( 41,175 to 54,897 US Dollar); the high-end brand Yangwang made its debut by opening up Yangwang U8 luxury version cabin interior to the public for the first time.

In addition, the first model of Dongfeng Warrior brand, the Warrior 917, and Great Wall’s new energy MPV model under the WEY, the Gao Shan DHT-PHEV, have attracted many exhibition visitors to explore. Whether it is sedans, SUVs, MPVs or other more segmented markets, although some new energy vehicle models that debuted at Auto Shanghai 2023 have previously appeared at the Chengdu Moto Show, the market discussion surrounding new energy vehicles remains higher compared to conventional fuel vehicles.

Among the numerous overseas car companies and joint ventures, German car manufacturers have always been at the forefront of electrification transformation, with BMW leading among them.

At this year’s Chengdu Moto Show, BMW is at the 14th hall with Cadillac, Volvo, Lincoln, Genesis, and Infiniti. BMW has unveiled a total of five new energy vehicles including the all-electric BMW iX1, all-electric BMW i7 M70L, brand-new BMW M760Le, limited edition BMW XM Label Red, and the BMW XM 50e. Undoubtedly, these offerings from BMW have become the most popular attractions in the hall. Including the aforementioned newly released models and the upcoming launch of the BMW i5 later this year, BMW will introduce a total of 11 pure electric products in the Chinese market covering almost every segment.

Mercedes-Benz has brought three new cars to this car show, namely the all-new Mercedes-AMG SL 63 convertible sports car, the new generation Mercedes-Benz GLE coupe SUV, and the new generation Mercedes-Benz GLB SUV. The suggested retail prices (range) for these three models are 1,999,800 Yuan (274,402 US Dollar), 843,800-947,800 Yuan ( 115,785-130,056 US Dollar), and 311,900-367,900 Yuan ( 42,792-50,473 US Dollar) respectively. They cover three different market segments.

SEE ALSO: BYD Frigate 07 Debuts at Chengdu Motor Show

While Audi has not released any new products, according to Liu Tao, Co-CEO of IM Motors, a high-end intelligent pure electric brand under SAIC Group, at the auto show, it was revealed that SAIC and Audi have signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the development of electrified vehicle models. The respective teams are rapidly advancing in engineering research and development, market research, product positioning, styling, and other related work.

In terms of second-tier luxury brands, Volvo announced the launch of its pure electric MPV model EM90 on August 24th, one day before the Chengdu International Auto Show. The vehicle is scheduled to have its global debut on November 12th this year and will simultaneously open for reservations in mainland China. Lincoln, on the other hand, showcased the new generation hybrid version of Navigator at the exhibition. The new car comes with a standard 2.0L twin-injection turbocharged engine that can output a maximum power of 207 kilowatts and a maximum torque of 407 Newton-meters. In addition to that, it has an added electric drive system which provides a range of 1129 kilometers under WLTC conditions and consumes 6.64 liters per hundred kilometers.

Among the mainstream Japanese and Korean car companies, Kia, a Korean company, has outperformed numerous Japanese companies and become the only enterprise to release a new pure electric product at this auto show.

As Kia’s first strategic model to debut and be launched in China, the brand-new all-electric SUV EV5 from Kia has officially started pre-sales. The official pre-sale price ranges from 159,800 to 229,800 Yuan ( 21,966 to 31,529 US Dollar) targeting the highly competitive mass market.

And it seems that the lack of progress in the transformation of Japanese brand new energy vehicles has become a common topic within the industry. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Mazda did not release any new energy products or announce the latest progress in electrification at this year’s auto show. Mitsubishi even did not participate in the exhibition. On media day, it was quite obvious that there were far fewer visitors at the booths of Japanese brands compared to those of new energy vehicle brands.

According to the data released by the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA), from January to July this year, the cumulative retail sales of mainstream joint venture NEVs were approximately 193,000 units, a year-on-year increase of 20.7%. However, there is a significant gap in cumulative retail sales compared to domestic brands which sold around 311,000 units during the same period. The growth rate also falls short of the over 30% level achieved by domestic brands. Even among well-known and influential joint venture brands in China, it is evident that German brands are unable to make up for the sales gap caused by Japanese brands’ weak transformation in the new energy vehicle market.

The Chengdu Motor Show reflects the current development status of the automotive industry. For the entire industry, the momentum of new energy vehicles in the Chinese market remains strong. As for enterprises, in order to break into the “finals”, they must first enter the track.