Beijing auto show forges ahead post COVID-19
Chinese market has been driving force for global sales amid epidemic
Published: Sep 26, 2020 08:52 PM

Photo: Tu Lei/GT

After a five-month delay, the Beijing auto show finally opened on Saturday. The show is the only event to be held in person in the world this year, after similar events such as in Geneva were canceled due to the epidemic.

785 vehicles are on display, 82 of which are making their debut. Fourteen of them are from multinational companies. 160 new energy vehicles are also on display. The event can be considered proof of the rapid recovery of China's economy.

Among the companies with models making their debut is Audi, including the Audi Q5L Sportback, which is designed for Chinese consumers. Rolls-Royce unveiled its new Ghost Extended, following the car's global launch earlier this month. Jaguar Land Rover's New Discovery Sport P300e, the mid-size luxury SUV is making its China debut.

Photo: Tu Lei/GT

 The show has been an opportunity to feel the market, and those interviewed by Global Times said they attach great importance to the Chinese market.

"The Chinese market has recovered faster than expected, and is the best of all markets," Leon Li, director of Rolls-Royce's Greater China region, told the Global Times. 

He said the UK factory resumed in May, and is the first car manufacturer in the UK to resume work, mainly due to the unexpected rising demand from China, its second largest market. "Our expectations for the year are much more optimistic than in February and March," he said. 

Sales in China normally account for 20-25 percent of our global sales, but the figure jumped to 50 percent in March and April this year, Richard Shore, Jaguar Land Rover's president of integrated marketing, sales and service in China, told the Global Times.  

The Chinese market has become more critical for global partners in 2020, as China is the only region in the world's major auto markets clearly recovering. China's auto market has grown since April since the resumption of work in March. 

Daimler's Mercedes-Benz brand achieved its "best second quarter ever in terms of unit sales" in China, where car sales increased by 21.6 percent year-on-year, the German carmaker said, accordind to Xinhua.

In contrast to other market regions where sales declined strongly due to the impact of COVID-19, sales in China went up and even grew by 35 percent for commercial vans during the period, according to Daimler. The development in China would show the "impressive speed at which demand is currently recovering in our largest market," Britta Seeger, member of the boards of management of Daimler and Mercedes-Benz, said in a statement.

Visitors at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition 2020, which opened on Saturday after a five-month delay. Photo: Li Hao/GT

FAW-Volkswagen Automobile Co sold 874,174 vehicles in the first half of 2020, leading the domestic passenger car market. From January to June, sales under the company's brands Volkswagen, Audi, and Jetta reached 504,793 units, 301,817 units, and 67,564 units, respectively, the company said in its statement.

Data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) showed that auto sales have maintained a growth rate of more than 10 percent for four consecutive months, and the development of China's business has become an important support for many auto companies to maintain their operations during the epidemic.

Experts said the recovery of China's auto market has greatly eased the pressure on all participants in the global auto industry supply chain that has been hit hard by the epidemic.

With the accelerated recovery in production and supply, market demand has gradually recovered, and market confidence is strengthening. The automotive industry will continue to recover, Chen Shihua, vice secretary general of CAAM, said.

China's new energy vehicle market has undergone tremendous changes, with several companies bringing their products, such as Tesla's Model 3, Model S, and Model X models, as well as the V3 super-charging pile that integrates leading technology at the show. 

Tesla is suing the US government and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer over the Trump administration's tariffs on parts Tesla imports from China to manufacture its electric cars. The company wants the court to void two batches of tariffs, and order a refund on tariffs Tesla paid, with interest, CNBC reported.