The Guangzhou Motor Show is like the Chinese auto industry as a whole. It’s huge, it’s confusing (to a foreigner there for the first time), and it’s full of electric vehicles. As someone who’s been paying attention to the North American and, to a lesser extent, European EV scene for a dozen years, visiting the show in Guangzhou this past week was a revelation. I mean, how many new alphanumeric EV names can you cram into your brain in a matter of hours?
I took notes. And here they are.
One of the strangest accessories on any EV at the show was the camera on the top of the Xpeng G3. The car itself is a futuristic looking CUV with a huge windshield reminiscent of the Tesla Model X (by which I mean, a bit too big if you’re driving in bright sun). Despite this and other similarities to that popular EV, it’s the large fin on top of the G3 that draws your eye. At first, it looks like a big satellite ratio antenna, but then you realize it can lift up spin around. The fin has a camera in it, which can be controlled from inside the car, a phone or using hand gestures. For example, you can hold your hand up and get it to follow you around. A peace sign will trigger the picture countdown and the “OK” sign returns the camera to the forward-facing standard position. It’s intended for entertainment only and at speeds below 60 kilometers an hour (37 miles per hour), I was told, and is all about making a “connecting experience” with the car.
The Xpeng G3 goes on sale December 12th at a price of around 150,000 RMB ($21,500) after government subsidy.
GAC Honda VE-1
Previously known as the Everus concept, the Honda VE-1 made its debut at the show. The VE-1 is an all-electric SUV based on the HR-V. As you might suspect, an EV of this size from a company of this size isn’t joking around, and that’s proven by the 53.6-kWh lithium-ion battery, which offers a range of 340 km on the NEDC cycle (around 211 miles).
As this is the production version of the Everus, the VE-1 is scheduled to start being built next month and will be used in a carsharing program from Reachstar. It will be sold – in China only – at a starting price of 170,800 RMB ($24,600) after government subsidy.
Following up on the smaller, shorter-range E100, the E200 is an urban EV with an NEDC range of 210 kilometers (130 miles). A spokesperson at the booth told me that in two months of sales, Baojun (a GM joint venture brand) has sold around 5,000 E200s in two provinces in China, Shandong and Guangxi. Sales are about to start in Guizhou and the car may be sold in Indonesia next year. The EV starts at just 49,800 RMB ($7,200) and has a 6.6-kW onboard charger and a 22.1-kWh pack.
The LITE, which went on sale in late 2017, is a different kind of city EV. Like those others, it’s not that expensive, starting at 86,800 RMB (around $12,500) after governmental subsidy. Unlike the others, it’s not based on a gas-powered model, for one thing, and the styling stands out from the crowd in a good way. It’s small and has a digital display between the headlights that allows people inside the car to send messages to those outside. In Guangzhou, the highlighted LITE was one with a Chibi Maruko Chan manga character emblazoned across the side.
Arcfox is owned by BJEV, which is, in turn, the electric vehicle subsidiary of the Beijing Auto Industry Corporation (BAIC). BAIC has another EV on its stand, the BAIC EU300, that came complete with a battery swap demonstration robot. While I was told this was only a display, and not yet available for consumers, BAIC did deliver 10 swap stations for EV taxis in Beijing in late 2016. You can see a video of the tech at the show here.
An electric version of the Kia KX3 was leaked to the public this summer, but it seems like the car made its official auto show debut in Guangzhou. Details at the stand and online are scarce, but we know the gas-powered KX3 is a Chinese market-only SUV built by Dongfeng Yueda Kia. India Car News says the all-electric SUV could have a 45-kWh lithium-ion battery that could be good for around 380 kilometers (236 miles).
Bestune B30 EV and X40 EV
Even though these two all-electric vehicles look like basic gasoline models, they’re actually concepts and are thus not yet on sale. A company representative told me that sales for both are planned for 2019 or 2020 in China, and maybe export models after that.
Bestune already sells gas-powered X40 and B30 models, and it is best known for its T77 SUV with its anime holographic assistant.