Auto Shanghai 2015; officially called the Sixteenth Shanghai International Automobile & Manufacturing Exhibition, opens April 20,2015 in the National Center for Exhibition and Convention in Shanghai, China. With China’s SUV sales numbers jumping 36-percent in 2014, and 46-percent so far this year, the SUV market is one of very few in which Chinese automakers are challenging their foreign rivals. The Great Wall Motor Company and the Jianghuai Automobile Company have reduced sedan output in order to build more SUVs and global manufacturers are racing to increase SUV output. “Chinese car buyers like SUVs for their dynamic styling and high seating positions”, said Lin Huaibin, an analyst with IHS Automotive in Shanghai, “They like the feeling of lording it over other cars when they are driving an SUV,” Lin said.
Despite a slowdown in the automotive market, China’s SUV market has grown at a stunning rate of over 30-percent annually since 2008. SUV sales totaled over 4-million last year (accounting for more than 28-percent of total new vehicle deliveries). Lin expects that the SUV segment will account for over one-third of the total market by 2025.
The Shanghai Auto Show will be the perfect venue for Chinese automakers to measure the global competition and see how they stack up, on their home turf. BMW, Citreon, Honda, and Mercedes-Benz have all announced plans to debut either SUVs or crossovers at this year’s show and other automakers are sure to follow suit.
Here are a few of the worldwide debuts expected in Shanghai:
- SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Company will unveil the Baojun 560, the brand’s first SUV. According to Chinese sources, the Baojun 560 is built on the Buick Excelle platform. It will be fitted with a 1.8-liter engine and a five-speed manual transmission. The Baojun 560 is the second SUV model to be a developed in China that includes a global automaker as part of a joint venture. The Baojun 560 will likely be very economical to purchase with a sticker price of just over 80,000 yuan ($12,900).
- The BMW Group announced last week plans to introduce a plug-in hybrid version of the BMW X5 xDrive, called the 40e.
- Chances are that the Dongfeng Nissan Passenger Vehicle Company will be on hand since they introduced an SUV in January that shares the platform of the Baojun 560. It is sold under their Venucia brand and is called the T70. Both vehicles are adapted from the Nissan Qashqai, but cost considerably less. In comparison the Quashai has a MSRP of $29,190.
- Great Wall, China’s leading SUV producer, plans to reintroduce their flagship model. It is called the Havai H8 and vehicle deliveries were suspended last year after drivers reported hearing “knocking noises” at high speeds. The H8 starts out at $32,950.
- Mercedes-Benz is in the developmental stages of a new crossover called the GLC Coupe Concept. If it stays true to the original sketches, it should feature the windswept dimensions of a sports coupe with the passenger comfort and cargo capacity of a small SUV. It is the little brother of the GLE that hits dealership showrooms this fall.
- The Honda Motor Company, who generated 40-percent of China’s total SUV sales last month with the CR-V, the Vezel, and the X-R, plans a worldwide debut of an SUV custom built for the Chinese market. Honda, who sells 15 models in China, says that the new SUV will feature Honda FUNTEC powertrain and infotainment technology.
As the Shanghai Auto Show draws nearer, look for other global automakers to announce their own worldwide debuts.
*Photos courtesy of Shanghai Auto Show*