In the US, Chinese cars are rarely discussed, let alone discussed as a real threat to the automotive status quo. But those “in the know” know better, and now Volkswagen– one of the world’s largest automakers– is calling BYD and NIO “direct competitors.”
The comment was made during the explanation of a slide shown at an April 20th meeting to discuss the Volkswagen Group’s “NEW AUTO” strategy that aims to turn VW and its subsidiaries into “a global force” across the fields of car making, automation (“mechatronics”), software development, EV batteries, and novel “mobility” solutions. The slide shows who Volkswagen considers rival automakers worth reckoning with– and NIO and BYD weren’t the only surprises there.
Do you see it? Hyundai is no surprise, and neither (really) are Tesla and XPeng. No, the surprising “threat” Volkswagen sees comes from Stellantis– the parent company of the Chrysler, Jeep, and Fiat brads. And, frankly, it’s surprising because Stellantis’ CEO, Carlos Tavares, doesn’t seem particularly confident the company can remain profitable in the race to electrification.
“In the transition to ‘NEW AUTO’, our competitors will not only be Mercedes-Benz, Toyota or the Stellantis Group,” VW chairman Herbert Diess is quoted as saying, “but also Tesla, Foxconn, Apple, LG Electronics, Uber, etc.”
Hearing Stellantis group mentioned in the same breath as Mercedes, Tesla, Foxconn, and Apple is a bit of a shocker for this write, at least. Possibly Steve, too– and anyone else who lived through the K-Car era of FWD Mopars. That said, the latest Chrysler Airflow looks the part, and the electric Jeep Wrangler concepts keep challenging the average Jeep fan’s notions of what’s possible, so… maybe?
Volkswagen Has a Fight On its Hands
The more popular Chinese car brands are starting to make headway in Europe, but the same can’t necessarily be said of European brands in China. There, Volkswagen had predicted its ID-model cars could sell as many as 100,000 units. They fell well short of that number, achieving just over 70,000 unit sales. An indication, according to Car News China, that consumers in that country prefer more driver-facing technology than what’s offered in the relatively low-tech VWs.
VW’s luxury brands didn’t fare much better, with both Porsche and Audi getting handily outsold by offerings from the local Hongqi and Human Horizons brands. Tesla, meanwhile, sold 310,000 units– outselling everyone.
It’s hard to know who is going to come out on top in the industry reshuffle that’s coming with electrification– but one thing’s sure, even for giants like Volkswagen: the times they are a changin’.
Source | Images: Volkswagen, via Car News China.
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