BYD’s Tesla rival leads new EV launches at Guangzhou Auto Show

GUANGZHOU: China’s top-selling automaker BYD Co.’s unveiling of its long-awaited rival to Tesla Inc.’s Model Y — the Sea Lion 07 — led a slew of new vehicle launches at this year’s Auto Guangzhou, one of the country’s biggest annual car shows.

Crowds flocked to the Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition — which started Nov 17 and runs until Nov 26 — to see new offerings from electric vehicle pacesetters like Li Auto Inc. and Volkswagen AG’s new China partner Xpeng Inc.

Sport utility and multi-purpose vehicles dominated the display booths as automakers seek to appeal to a new generation of tech-savvy, environmentally conscious drivers.

While the world’s biggest auto and EV market may not be as hot as it was 12 months ago, the year-end push to grab headlines and boost sales to hit annual delivery targets is in full flow.

Here’s some of the highlights of the vehicles on display:

BYD Sea Lion 07

The Sea Lion 07 is BYD’s answer to Tesla’s top-selling Model Y. It’s the first mid-sized pure-electric SUV from China’s top car brand, and comes as BYD jostles to dethrone Tesla as the world’s biggest maker of pure-EVs.

Among Sea Lion’s features are BYD’s in-house “DiSus” body control system, which it says makes the car capable in almost any driving condition and scenario. Local media reports say the Sea Lion 07 will be priced between 200,000 yuan to 260,000 yuan (US$27,700 to US$36,000), which puts it below the base Model Y, which currently goes for 266,400 yuan in China.

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Beijing-based Li Auto finally unveiled its first pure-electric model, having risen in popularity with its extended-range EVs (which carry electric motors powered by gasoline engines). The seven-seat MEGA MPV secured 10,000 pre-orders within two hours of its release.

The design of the MPV was a major talking point with its uninterrupted, curvaceous windscreen and roof — which the company says makes it more aerodynamic, extending its range — and squared-off, boxy rear.

Powered by Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd.’s 1,000km capable Qilin battery, the MEGA MPV can charge to 500 kilometers of range in just 12 minutes. The starting price will be under 600,000 yuan, and mass production and deliveries could start as soon as February.

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Zeekr 007 Sedan

The 007 is the first electric sedan from Geely Automotive Holdings Ltd.’s premium Zeekr brand — designed by a team led by long-time Audi veteran Stefan Sielaff. The futuristic-looking car has clean lines — there’s no door handles — and a tech-laden design, with the front bumper featuring a 90-inch intelligent lighting display. The 475kW all-wheel drive can go from zero to 100kph in just 2.84 seconds.

Inside, there’s a central console display that tilts toward the driver or front seat passenger. In sport mode, the special seats (for the racier model) grip the passenger’s body and the pricier version will have a heads-up display that projects the dashboard onto the front window.

The 007 comes in two ranges, 688km and 870km. Its fast-charging technology delivers up to 610km of range in 15 minutes. Zeekr picked up 20,000 pre-orders in the first 48 hours. The discounted pre-sales price starts at 224,900 yuan, ahead of deliveries from January.

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Xpeng X9 MPV

The seven-seater is the first pure electric MPV from Xpeng, which recently signed a partnership to develop two VW-branded EVs for the German auto giant. The carmaker’s new flagship will start at 388,000 yuan and offer 610 kilometers of range on a single charge, and is a step up for Xpeng, which has previously targeted the mass market.

With the family market in mind, the interior features a 21.4 inch entertainment screen, an in-built fridge and a maximum storage capacity of a spacious 2,554 liters. Xpeng’s autonomous driving features will also be deployed on this model.

Cadillac Optiq SUV

One of the few foreign carmakers on display, the US icon launched the Optiq electric SUV, Cadillac’s first China-exclusive model. Also targeted at potential Model Y buyers, the crossover comes with 502km of range, and while pricing hasn’t been announced yet, will be cheaper than its sister model, the luxury Lyriq SUV.

Cadillac and its parent General Motors Co. have been losing market share in China and are trying to revive their appeal to customers who are increasingly favoring electric cars.

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Changan Lieshou Pickup

Changan Automobile Co.’s Lieshou (which means “hunter” in Chinese) pickup stood out in the sea of sedans and SUVs in the exhibition hall. Pickups, which are treated as trucks in China, haven’t been as popular as other types of passenger cars because some cities restrict their entry. But bans have been lifted in recent year due to more electric and hybrid models coming onto the market.

The Lieshou is designed as an extended range EV capable of up to 1,031km. The range on pure battery power is 170km, and fuel consumption is about 1.9l/100km, compared with 6 to 7 litres for small gasoline cars.
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