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A view of Auto China exhibition. Image courtesy: Xinhua/Cai Yang

New Energy Vehicles take centre stage at Auto China

BEIJING, April 28, 2024

Cutting-edge batteries capable of providing a record-breaking 1000km range, pioneering hydrogen-fueled extended range vehicles are among the array of groundbreaking technologies captivating attendees at the ongoing Auto China international automotive exhibition in Beijing.
Themed “Driving to smart mobility”, the show from April 25 to May 4 will witness 117 global premieres, 41 concept vehicles, and 278 types of NEVs (new energy vehicles) this year. The auto parts zone alone has gathered nearly 500 companies from 13 countries, says a report by Emirates News Agency (Wam).
NEVs, unsurprisingly, took the centre stage. Over 60% of the debut cars globally are powered by green energy, amid China’s rapid, committed transition to greener economy. In the first half of April, over half of passenger vehicles sold in China were NEVs, surpassing conventional fuel vehicles for the first time.
“The world has been waking up to the fact that not only are the Chinese brands coming, but they are expanding very quickly and getting somewhere where consumers are turning their preference to them”, Johan Annell, Partner and General Manager Beijing of advisory firm ARC Group.
As per the projection of CMC Auto Import& Export, over 40% of the vehicles exported from China would be NEVs in 2024 with the total auto exports up by 15%-20% to 6 million units.
“Looking forward, there is a lot left in the US and Europe to increase adoption. In the emerging markets, too, some are leapfrogging”, Annell said, adding that Southeast Asia could be the next top destination for auto investment and cooperation.
A London-based anonymous auto designer for a China-UK joint venture told CEN that the competence of Chinese brands is making the European markets and the manufacturers wake up and go for higher quality and lower prices. 
"In recent years, emerging Chinese brands such as Neo, BYD, and XPeng have achieved and, in some cases, exceeded international standards. We must seriously consider raising our own standards," he stated.
CATL, a leading battery manufacturer, launched a new battery at the auto show, featuring a world-first innovation that offers a 1,000-km range and supports ultra-fast charging. This breakthrough allows for a 600-km range in just 10 minutes of charging, achieving a recharge rate of "1 kilometer per second", said a Xinhua report.
A CATL spokesperson said that while the world is turning climate consensus into action, many obstacles remain. Technological inequality persists, and some countries are slowing the pace of the green energy transition, which creates challenges in advancing a sustainable future for the world.
In China, the new energy passenger car retail penetration rate exceeded 50 percent for the first time in the first half of April, indicating that one out of every two cars sold is a new energy vehicle. This milestone is particularly significant, considering China's ambitious goal set in 2020 to exceed a 50 percent NEV penetration rate by 2035, which seemed distant at the time when the penetration rate was only 5.8 percent, the report said.
Aion, an EV brand under China's Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC), has become one of the fastest-growing automotive brands globally. This success is attributed to its comprehensive in-house research and development in the domains of EVs and intelligent connected vehicles (ICVs).
GAC Aion General Manager Gu Huinan emphasised the company's commitment to bringing high-quality, intelligent and valuable products to the local markets and driving local automotive industry development.
In 2022, Aion's smart eco-factory achieved zero carbon emissions and was honored as the Global Lighthouse Network's (GLN) sole NEV manufacturer member in December 2023.
The robust tailwinds created by China's NEV industry are not only propelling domestic growth but also turbo-charging innovation and opportunity across the global automotive landscape.
David Slump, President and CEO of Marelli, a leading global automotive supplier, highlighted the importance of "China speed" for innovation. 
"If you look at our order book, about 25 percent of orders are from China," he told Xinhua at the auto show. "That tells me that we'll be growing faster in China than elsewhere, and that's super important. And it's because of the speed and the innovation in China."


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