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Shanghai Motor Show, Japan’s EV offensive is a barrier for China’s BYD

The Shanghai International Auto Show, the world’s largest automotive exhibition, opened in Shanghai, China. Japanese automobile giants unveiled their new electric vehicles (EVs) for the first time to showcase their roll-out in the world’s largest EV market. Meanwhile, China’s BYD, a major EV manufacturer, is hurrying to consolidate its foothold in the market with a line-up of low-priced and high-end products.

‘China is at the forefront of EV development, and we are moving ahead with the localisation of EV development. The Shanghai International Auto Show (Shanghai Motor Show), which opened on 18 June, was held in Shanghai, China. Hiroki Nakajima, Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Corporation, who spoke at a press conference on the opening day of the show, emphasised the shift to EVs in the Chinese market.

The Sports Crossover Concept, aimed at the Z generation, will be developed with a joint venture with BYD, a major EV manufacturer in China, and other companies. The Flex Space Concept, a family-friendly SUV (multi-purpose sports vehicle), will be jointly developed with Guangqi Toyota Motor and other companies, including a joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group.

Both models are scheduled to be launched in the Chinese market in 2024, demonstrating the company’s commitment to expanding new models in the Chinese market in order to achieve its global EV sales target of 1.5 million units by 2014.

Japanese EVs make a comeback
The Shanghai Motor Show, held in China, the world’s largest EV market, was a ‘one-EV show’, with all the major Japanese and foreign automobile manufacturers presenting their EVs. Japanese automakers, which had been conspicuous laggards, were clearly determined to make a comeback.

Honda is one of the companies that is rushing to shift to EVs, and unveiled three models under its e:N brand, a dedicated EV brand scheduled for launch in 2012. One of these models, the Jyo SUV, will feature the latest driving safety support system and connected technology with artificial intelligence (AI) to “create a space where you can feel intelligence throughout the entire interior”, according to the company. The company also announced the launch of a sports car-type EV from 25 years onwards.

The company announced that all new cars to be launched in the Chinese market in 35 years will be EVs. The company had previously set a target of all new cars in the global market to be EVs or fuel cell vehicles in 40 years, but in China this target will be brought forward by five years. Shinji Aoyama, Vice President, said at the press conference, “We will also use the knowledge gained in China to accelerate electrification globally”.

Nissan also unveiled the Arizon, an SUV-type EV. It is equipped with a virtual assistant called Epolo, which uses data such as time and weather to interact with the occupants and provide them with the necessary information. Chief Operating Officer (COO) Ashwani Gupta said that ‘China is the most receptive market for advanced technology in the world’ and announced the launch of seven electric vehicles, including EVs, by 2014.

Japanese companies are moving to roll back EVs, but the Chinese EV market is dominated by the ‘two powerhouses’ of the US Tesla and BYD. In fact, at the Shanghai Motor Show, BYD’s presence stood out in the absence of Tesla.