BYD’s Tesla fighter debuts in Guangzhou auto show

BYD Co Ltd’s unveiling of its long-awaited rival to Tesla Inc’s Model Y, the Sea Lion 07, led a slew of new vehicle launches at this year’s Auto Guangzhou, one of the country’s biggest annual car shows. 

Crowds flocked to the Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition, which started on Nov 17 and runs until Nov 26, to see new offerings from electric-vehicle (EV) makers including Li Auto Inc and Volkswagen AG’s new China partner Xpeng Inc. Sport utility (SUV) and multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) dominated the display booths as automakers seek to appeal to a new generation of tech-savvy, environmentally conscious drivers. 

While the world’s biggest auto and EV market may not be as hot as it was 12 months ago, the year-end push to grab headlines and boost sales to hit annual delivery targets is in full effect. Here are some of the highlights of the vehicles on display: 

BYD Sea Lion 07 

The Sea Lion 07 is BYD’s answer to Tesla’s top-selling Model Y. It’s the first mid-size battery-electric SUV from China’s top car brand, and arrives as BYD looks to dethrone Tesla as the world’s biggest maker of pure EVs. 

Among the model’s features are BYD’s in-house DiSus body control system, which it says makes the car capable in almost any driving condition and scenario. Local media reports say the Sea Lion 07 will be priced between 200,000 yuan to 260,000 yuan (RM166,400), which would be below the base Model Y that currently goes for 266,400 yuan in China. 

Li Auto Mega MPV 

Beijing-based Li Auto finally unveiled its first pure-electric model, having risen in popularity with its extended-range EVs that use petrol engines to charge the battery on the go. The seven-seat Mega MPV secured 10,000 pre-orders within two hours of its release. 

The design of the MPV was a major talking point with its uninterrupted and curvaceous windscreen and roof, which the company says makes it more aerodynamic and extends driving range. Powered by Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd’s 1,000km (621 mile) capable Qilin battery, the Mega MPV can charge to 500km of range in just 12 minutes. The starting price will be under 600,000 yuan, and mass production and deliveries could start as soon as February. 

Zeekr 007 Sedan 

The 007 is the first electric sedan from Geely Automotive Holdings Ltd’s premium Zeekr brand, designed by a team led by long-time Audi veteran Stefan Sielaff. The futuristic-looking car has clean lines — there are no door handles — and the front bumper features a 90-inch intelligent lighting display. The 475KW all-wheel-drive version can go from zero to 100kph in just 2.84 seconds. 

Inside, there’s a central console display that tilts toward the driver or front seat passenger. In sport mode, the special seats for the racier model grip the passenger’s body, and the pricier version will have a heads-up display that projects the dashboard onto the front window. 

The 007 comes in two ranges, 688km and 870km. Its fast-charging technology delivers up to 610km of range in 15 minutes. Zeekr picked up 20,000 pre-orders in the first 48 hours. The discounted pre-sales price starts at 224,900 yuan, ahead of deliveries from January. 

Xpeng X9 MPV 

The seven-seater is the first pure-electric MPV from Xpeng, which recently signed a partnership to develop two VW-branded EVs for the German auto giant. The carmaker’s new flagship will start at 388,000 yuan and offer 610km of range on a charge. It’s a step up for Xpeng, which has previously targeted the mass market. 

With the family market in mind, the interior features a 21.4-inch entertainment screen, an in-built fridge and a maximum storage capacity of a spacious 2,554 litres. Xpeng’s automated driving features will also be deployed on this model. 

Cadillac Optiq SUV 

As one of the few foreign carmakers on display, Cadillac launched the Optiq electric SUV, its first China-exclusive model. Also targeted at would-be Model Y buyers, the crossover comes with 502km of range. While pricing hasn’t been announced yet, it’ll be smaller and cheaper than the brand’s Lyriq SUV. 

Cadillac and its parent General Motors Co have been losing market share in China and are trying to revive their appeal to customers who are increasingly favouring electric cars. 

Changan Lieshou Pickup 

Changan Automobile Co Ltd’s Lieshou, which means “hunter” in Chinese, stood out in the sea of sedans and SUVs in the exhibition hall. 

Pickups aren’t all that popular in China because some cities restrict their entry, though bans have been lifted in recent years due to more electric and hybrid models coming to market. 

The Lieshou is designed as an extended-range EV capable of up to 1,031km. The range on pure battery power is 170km, and fuel consumption is about 1.9 litres per 100km, compared with six litres to 7 litres for small petrol cars. — Bloomberg

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition