While other car shows are struggling with cancellations, the aisles of the Auto Shanghai are bursting at the seams. German manufacturers in particular do not want to leave the field to the growing Chinese car manufacturers.
The Geneva International Motor Show is struggling and the cancellations at the Frankfurt IAA have long since exceeded a dozen. Such problems are not known in China and especially at the "Auto Shanghai". The aisles are bursting at the seams because no manufacturer wants to be absent from the exhibition center. Even the otherwise so self-confident German car manufacturers cannot conceal the fact that Shanghai is the hub of the international automobile world.
At the National Exhibition and Convention Center in the Qingpu District, around 45 minutes from the city center, no car manufacturer wants to be left out. Years ago, the European and especially the German car manufacturers were setting the pace on the world's largest automobile market. In 2019 the 18th edition of "Auto Shanghai" will be quite different.
Of course, an electric city study such as the Audi AiMe is causing a stir, trade fair visitors take a close look at the Mercedes GLB as a seven-seater family crossover and, of course, many customers are looking forward to the new BMW 3 Series with its long wheelbase. Those who like it sporty, dream of the power double pack of BMW X3 M and X4 M with 510 hp, the successful Porsche Cayenne Coupé or see how electrifying Golf technology was installed in the Audi Q2 L E-Tron. Not electric, but also discreetly revised: the Mini Clubman.
But in fact, domestic manufacturers have long been calling the tune at the "Auto Shanghai". Brands such as Chery, Hanteng, Oshan, Geely, Wey, Leapmotor, Weltmeiser or mass manufacturer Haval present various SUV models. The popular crossover classes from 4.50 to 4.90 meters are especially popular among potential Chinese buyers. In many cases, the vehicles are electrified, whereby the plug-in hybrids presented in the past have become a rare sight on the glistening bright exhibition stands.
Either the SUVs are powered by modern turbo engines or the combustion engines have been completely replaced with powerful electric motors. This year, every manufacturer must sell at least ten percent of its models as plug-in hybrids or electric models. Next year it will be 12 %.
On the Chinese car market, electric cars amounted to more than 788,000 units in 2018, an increase of 68.4 % compared to the previous year. Despite their comparatively small volume base, plug-in hybrids have experienced high growth rates in recent years. Their sales volume rose by almost 140 % to 265,000 units in 2018.
If there is one European manufacturer that is able to counter the Chinese wave of attacks at the show, it is Volkswagen. With its two local cooperation partners FAW and SAIC, the OEM is the undisputed leader in the country. With a market share of 14 %, the company is well ahead of the first purely local manufacturers, who account for less than half of this share. "We sold 4.2 million vehicles in China last year," says VW China boss Stephan Wöllenstein, "this year we expect similar figures. Our large SUV offensive in particular is contributing to this."
And this offensive is enormous, because just two years ago there were just two SUV models in the VW portfolio - the current number of six models will rise to twelve by the end of 2020. With the T-Cross, the Teramont X and the electrical study of the ID Roomzz three new SUVs could be admired at the VW booth.
But new models are not enough. For the first time at a trade fair, the Chinese sub-brand called Jetta is set to attract young and price-sensitive customers. As difficult as the name may seem for Europeans or Americans, an SUV model such as the VS7 will probably find its customers in China just as much as the four-door VA3 sedan.
Once again there are brands to be seen at a Chinese motor show whose names have never been heard before. Enovate not only surprises with its pleasing design, but also with gigantic displays and neat workmanship inside. The visionary concept study by Icona with its autonomous Nucleus, Quiantu with its sporty K50 or Zedriv with the GT3 in Cayman size is a dream come true for those who want to show that electric sports cars are fun too.
But even if a few sports cars and more than a handful of limousines like the Nio ET snuck into the countless trade fair premieres with vehicles such as the Leapmotor S01 or Arcfox, no one can ignore the SUVs. Currently, every second vehicle in China is an SUV - with an upward trend.
Even Hongqi, once a noble brand for state cars, has long since become an SUV brand with models such as the HS5 or the larger HS7. Besides the design worth seeing, more and more SUVs are also equipped with an electric drive and attract a lot of attention like Hozon U, VW ID Roomzz or Skoda Vision IV. Even Renault has discovered the Chinese electrical market with the small City K-ZE.