The Shanghai Motor Show is traditionally reflecting the Chinese automotive market.
The past booming market having evolved in few decades from around half a million cars per year to 28,2 million in 2017, the Shanghai motor show was so these past years the meeting place with the most abundant number of models and brands.
This year, the question mark was to know if this affluence would be maintained despite some adverse winds. Indeed, in 2018, the market slowed down by 3,7% to 27,5 million.
And the first months of 2019 was even worse with -16,3% year-to-date sales in January and February. Nevertheless, many are hoping a rebound, first as March showed the smallest decrease year-on-year in over seven months, at 5.2%, and as a timely reduction in sales tax ordered by the Chinese central government will be effective from the beginning of April.
But despite or thanks to all these elements, the 2019 Shanghai motor show was still very active with a huge number of premieres and a strong trend towards environmentally sensitive cars. Every key Chinese car maker, including the five state-owned heavyweights SAIC, FAW, BAIC, Dongfeng and Changan, but also private rivals headed by the likes of Geely, GAC, Great Wall Motors and BYD, all presented new or improved production models this year.
This 2019 motor show was also especially significant with a strong increase of Chinese models prepared for European launches and models from non-Chinese global manufacturers specifically prepared for the Chinese market.
The environment issues are becoming crucial in China and so the zero emission solutions are playing a big part in the attraction of new cars for Chinese buyers. New names are supporting being laid on thick by the likes of Nio, XPeng, Weltmeister, Singulato, Byton, Aiways, Bordrin Motor and Leap Motors, along with many other newly-created electric vehicle start-ups, several of which are based in and around the sprawling metropolis of Shanghai itself.
Here are the 4 main trends we retain from the Shanghai 2019 Autoshow:
The trend for electrification was already seen in the previous motor shows, but never at this level.
Every car maker presented several electric versions of their cars. On some booths, the number of electric versions presented were higher of the number of petrol versions, and sometimes, only electric versions were presented. This is particularly true in China as many new companies are created to develop electric cars only, this movement in China being reinforced by the industrial policy of the government and by the possibility to find there all the basic components for this new power architecture authorizing a relatively low entry ticket.
All the types of electric vehicles were presented: Hybrid with a trend to use more and more plug-in versions, pure electric with battery with a range of at least 300km and more often 400km, electric with range extension with a small petrol engine, and finally electric with hydrogen. This last type seen by some people as the real future was not only presented by the initial creators as Toyota, Honda or Hyundai, but also by at least 3 Chinese car makers showing their quick evolution towards high technology.
SUV have a good success everywhere, but perhaps even more in China. In the Shanghai autoshow, we have seen a lot of SUV, and many of them being relatively big. Some car makers in China are producing only SUV, and now more and more electric SUV.
For these cars as for many other cars, the front grille is relatively high, vertical and massive to give a perception of strength.
Lighting style diversification
Between the hundreds of models presented, the variety of style was particularly impressive.
If we should try to give some main trends for style seen in this “autoshow”, we could say:
– Thinner headlamps and rearlamps allowed now by the small LED modules
– Composed front panels with often positioning of one lighting element on the upper part and the other more in the center of the face.
– Large lighting devices with an applique joining the two main lighting functions from one side to the other, very often for the rear and now more progressively appearing in the front.
Never we have seen so few halogen headlamps, particularly for Chinese models. For sure in a motor show, mainly the high-end versions are presented, and for some Chinese cars it is not obvious to determine surely that a LED source is used behind a lens module. But each time we check more precisely thanks to the color of the light, the detailed explanation in the booklet, the size of the modules and so on, LEDs were present. More than in some other countries, in China as in Japan or Korea, the color of the light as well as the design are important factors of modernity.