|2017/8 Lynk & Co: Chinese Plug-in made for Export|
Mass exports from Chinese Auto Brands to mature markets have been hampered by Safety and Emission concerns, as well as a general prejudice regarding products coming that country.
BEV's are seen as an opportunity, because the Emission part of the equation is solved from the beginning, while Safety and Design of Chinese cars have been evolving faster than their foreign competitors, reducing the gap, so it won't be long until the best Chinese Electric Cars are head-to-head with the best mass market EV's.
To date, Chinese EV makers haven't really bothered to export their models, because their domestic is more than enough to absorb all production, but if they did, which would be the more successful? These would be my picks.
Bare in mind that i chose only all-electric cars and eschewed the current Top Best Sellers, this a personal view and others might choose different models.
BYD Qin EV300 - BYD's can be seen something a bit like Chinese Teslas, with Youtube videos showing their Tang SUV's racing BMW X6's and the like, BYD is not only the largest plug-in maker in the World, but also a cool one, a rare commodity among Chinese car makers. Unfortunately, like Tesla, coolness doesn't come cheap, and this Qin EV300 costs 260k Yuan (Price before subsidies), or around 36.000 euros. Did i hear you say: "Yikes, that's a lot of money for a Chinese car!". It is, but then again, you get a lot in return: 300 kms range from a 48 kWh battery, 218 hp, 0-100 kms/h in 7.9s, nice interiors...Think of it as sort of an all-electric Chevrolet Volt and you are not far from the truth. For those that still can't get past the price and don't mind a taxi-like-appliance, BYD offers the e5 300, which is basically the same package and specs, but with a less sexy outfit, for 230k Yuan, or 31.500 eur.
Geely Emgrand EV - The owner of Volvo joined this year the EV stage with the Emgrand EV, a BYD Qin fighter, that is slightly cheaper (252k Yuan, 34.5k eur), but has also slightly less range (253 kms from a 45 kWh battery), and despite being no slouch (120 hp, 9.9s 0-100kms/h), is significantly slower. "So, why would people buy this, if the Qin has almost the same price but better specs?" - Some might ask. The short answer is "Volvo". As mentioned before, one of the weak points of Chinese Car Makers is brand cachet, or the lack of it. If BYD has become a known entity among the plug-in niche and can start there their branding, Geely as no cred among EV followers or the general public in developed markets, but add the word "Volvo" to the mix and things start to change, with the most recent Geely models sharing technology with the Swedish brand, Geely can use that card the same way Mercedes did with the Smart brand (Mercedes tech) or Renault with Dacia. That way, customers can say to their friends, neighbors and coworkers: "Yeah, my car came from China, but it's made with Volvo parts"
Chery eQ - A consistent seller in China, the funky eQ sells for 160k Yuan (22.000 Euro) before incentives and for that you get a decently equipped and sized city car, with 22kWh battery and 200 kms range, with the only drawback being the weak engine (56 hp, 100 kms/h top speed), at least by First World standards, which might put off people when thinking about some urban freeways. Add a bit more power to the engine and you could have a valuable competitor to the current crop of city EV's, as the Mitsubishi triplets are showing their age, the VW e-Up! is pricey, while the upcoming Smart Forfour ED looks too goofy (What were Smart designers smoking when did this last generation?!?).
Zotye Zhima E30 - An intriguing mash up of BMW i3, Smart Fortwo (Previous generation) and Tesla on the inside, this butch(y) city car, looks quite nice inside and out, but Zotye will have to improve specs to have success on foreign markets, especially considering the (steep) price: 25.000 Euro. Increase the 18 kWh battery size to some 24 kWh, pulling the range north of 200 kms, and place a peppy engine (100 hp should be enough) and this tittle bugger will have specs that match its hip design and make it a success.
BAIC EX200 - Ending this list without a Crossover would be ignoring probably the most significant automotive trend in China and globally, so among the rising number of BEV Crossovers made in China, i have chosen this model, the electric conversion of the Senova X25 best seller. This small Crossover (Think Kia Soul or Renault Captur) is only #19 in the plug-in ranking in China, but right now its sales potential could be hampered by the battery, the 30kWh allows only 200 kms range, if BAIC placed the 41 kWh battery of its EU260 sedan, then range would get a bump to some 250 kms and surely sales would increase significantly, more so if the engine were to be upgraded from the current 70 hp to 90/100 hp. Doing these changes and keeping price at current levels, 207k Yuan (28.500 Euro) before incentives, would transform this model in a real winner on foreign markets, especially considering the only plug-in model in that segment is the much more expensive Kia Soul EV.