Leaders of Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi Gather at Auto Shanghai 2023
The 20th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition opened on April 18th, marking the first international A-level auto show since the beginning of 2023. It was also the first major global economic and trade event in Shanghai after the epidemic. The exhibition showcased an impressive portfolio of electric vehicle models from major Chinese EV makers, while many large multinational car companies were represented by their chairmen and global CEOs who attended in person.
During the show on April 18th, BMW Group Chairman Oliver Zipse declared that “the future lies in China”. He also announced that BMW has delivered over 500,000 pure electric vehicles worldwide since 2013. In the Chinese market alone, sales of BMW’s pure electric vehicle models nearly doubled last year. The group anticipates that this year, pure electric vehicle models will make up 15% of their global sales and by 2030 they are projected to account for more than half of the group’s total global sales.
On April 17th, Jochen Goller, President and CEO of BMW Group Region China, delivered a speech in Chinese at an event prior to the auto show’s opening. This demonstrated his focus on the Chinese market. Goller highlighted that almost half of BMW’s board members were present at the event.
This is the first time that the brand is exclusively showcasing electrified new models at a show. The highlights of the exhibition include the all-electric BMW i7 M70 xDrive, BMW XM Label Red, and an electric version of the BMW iX1.
The significance of the Chinese market and Auto Shanghai 2023 is evident from the arrival schedule of Ola Kllenius, CEO of Mercedes-Benz. On April 12th, Kllenius and his team met with Jin Zhonglong, Minister of Industry and Information Technology in Beijing to discuss the expansion of Mercedes-Benz’s business in China along with advanced technologies like L3-level autonomous driving. During the meeting, Kllenius expressed his willingness to augment investment in China while strengthening collaboration with Chinese business partners across various domains such as research and development, production, and procurement among others.
During the show, Kllenius highlighted that China is Mercedes-Benz’s biggest market and a crucial one for the Maybach brand. In an interview with Bloomberg, he further revealed that the company aims to double its worldwide sales of electric vehicles this year. He emphasized that China is a highly competitive market where emerging car manufacturers should not be underestimated.
Markus Duesmann, the Chairman of the Board of Management at Audi AG, made an appearance at Auto Shanghai 2023. During his speech, he emphasized that Audi is committed to promoting business transformation in China and meeting the unique needs of Chinese customers. To achieve this strategic goal, they are strengthening their local research and development capabilities as well as production capacity through two major initiatives: The new Audi China R&D Center in Beijing and their first pure electric vehicle production base located in Changchun – the capital city of Jilin province in northeast China.
Audi, along with its joint-venture partners First Automotive Works (FAW) and SAIC Motor, presented their product portfolio for China at Auto Shanghai 2023 in a shared booth. The showcased vehicles included the locally produced Audi Q4 e-tron and Audi Q5 e-tron. Additionally, the public debut of the Audi urbansphere concept was also featured at the event in China.
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Car companies are taking advantage of the auto show to increase their investment in China. Volkswagen, for instance, has announced that it will invest approximately EUR 1 billion to establish a new center for development, innovation, and procurement of fully connected electric cars with headquarters in Hefei, Anhui Province. The project is called “100%TechCo” and combines vehicle and component R&D as well as procurement. It aims to reduce development times for new products and technologies by around 30%. By integrating state-of-the-art technologies from local suppliers into the development process at an early stage, 100%TechCo can adapt vehicles even faster to meet the needs of Chinese customers.