Tesla, recharge: can China’s EV brands dethrone Elon Musk?
By Mark Andrews
SCMP Post Magazine. 12/04/2021
Can China produce a car to take on Tesla? Last year saw two models account for 20 per cent of sales for plug-in electric cars, or what China calls new energy vehicles (NEV). The made-in-China Tesla Model 3 went on sale right at the beginning of 2020, and went on to claim 11 per cent over the year. The ultra-compact Wuling Hongguang Mini EV, released in the middle of the year, took second place, with retail prices starting as low as 28,800 yuan (YS$4,400) helping it eclipse Tesla sales in several calendar months.
In a tough market due to Covid-19, sales of NEVs increased but polarisation towards the premium and budget ends led to a squeeze of the middle ground dominated by traditional players such as SAIC, BAIC and BYD, who all saw double-digit decreases in sales. And so the question remains: can Chinese EV producers hit the sweet spot in terms of price and tech to succeed domestically and abroad?
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