China's NEVs with cutting-edge tech favored by global buyers at Canton Fair
Export boom backed by industrial upgrades, technological advancements
Published: Apr 19, 2023 08:24 PM
More than 2,500 automobiles ready for export at the Taicang Port in East China's Jiangsu Province on March 2, 2023. Photo: VCG

More than 2,500 automobiles ready for export at the Taicang Port in East China's Jiangsu Province on March 2, 2023. Photo: VCG

Unmanned aerial vehicles, self-driving taxis, flying cars... All these futuristic new-energy vehicles (NEVs) captured attention of global buyers at the ongoing 133rd China Import and Export Fair, commonly known as the Canton Fair, which kicked off on Saturday.

In addition to the commonly known electric cars and trucks, other NEVs, such as electric tractors, hydrogen-fueled buses, and pure electric go-karts, were also on display in the newly built Exhibition Area D, which had specific halls for NEVs and intelligent connected vehicles.

Adil Mothammednur Tuhaye from Ethiopia was captivated by the intelligent electric autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) EH216-S. The state-of-art AAV, developed by Guangzhou-based EHang Intelligent Technology Co, was showcased at the entrance of the exhibition hall.

Visitors inspect intelligent electric autonomous aerial vehicles produced by EHang Intelligent Technology Co at the 133rd session of the Canton Fair on April 17, 2023. Photo: Chi Jingyi/ GT

Visitors inspect intelligent electric autonomous aerial vehicles produced by EHang Intelligent Technology Co at the 133rd session of the Canton Fair on April 17, 2023. Photo: Chi Jingyi/ GT

"I don't have any plan to buy an AAV. I'm just impressed by China's high-tech products. My purchase plan is for Chinese electric vehicles [EVs], which are of good quality and cost-effective," Tuhaye told the Global Times on Monday. "We have a huge potential market back in Ethiopia."

The Global Times observed that many overseas buyers had hands-on experience in the star product EH216-S. It is the world's first electric passenger-grade AAV, according to Ehang.

Diversified buyers

"I sent an electronic contract to a Danish buyer in the morning, just one step away from the final signature," Xu Mingyu, managing director of the Henan Zhongjue New Energy Automobile Co, told the Global Times on Saturday, the first day of the fair.

Xu said that the company, which was founded in 2019, sold 800 NEVs to the European market in the first quarter of 2023.

Some Chinese exhibitors at the Canton Fair told the Global Times that there was an increase in inquiries from emerging markets, such as Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America, in addition to their current customers from Europe and North America. 

A sales manager at the Zhongtong Bus Holding Co, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Global Times on Sunday that many African buyers had showed an interest in purchasing their NEVs.

The Global Times noticed that a group of buyers from Argentina were engaged in a heated discussion at Zhongtong's booth. The manager revealed that they were the company's old customers and a purchase deal of hydrogen buses was expected.

Omer Yildirim, a buyer from Turkey, was noticed experiencing an electric Forthing SUV at the Dongfeng Liuzhou Motor booth on Monday.

"I came to the Canton Fair to see China's NEVs and meet new suppliers. I plan to purchase 8,000 electric cars this year," said Yildirim. He noted that China's EV industry has developed rapidly in the last decade, with the emergence of many new brands, and now many countries are using Chinese EV products.

A sales representative from the Dongfeng Liuzhou Motor company told the Global Times on Monday that Europe was a difficult market for Chinese cars to reach, but "now our NEVs have done it."

A total of 142 customers from 77 countries made inquiries in the first two days, mainly from Southeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America, a sales person of SAIC GM-Wuling told the Global Times on Monday.

According to the Canton Fair organizer, buyers from 226 countries and regions registered online and in person for the event. As of Wednesday, the Canton Fair had welcomed over 1.25 million visits in five days. 

The shopping list for a buyer from India, who preferred to be called Riya, is far longer than before the epidemic, as he has missed the Canton Fair for three years in a row.

The Global Times met Riya when he immersed himself in the experience of an electric passenger car, asking about the performance and price.

"I plan to purchase a batch of cheap NEVs with good performance in China according to the income level of Indians, so as to open the domestic [Indian] market," Riya told the Global Times on Saturday.

Between Made-in-China and "Make in India", Riya chose the former, which he said is No.1 in lithium battery manufacturing in the world and has guaranteed quality. In addition, Chinese NEVs are exquisitely designed for everyday use in India, said Riya.

A global leader 

Today, on the new track of high-end, intelligent, and green development in China's manufacturing industry, NEVs are running at high gear. Intelligent NEVs with cutting-edge technologies and innovation have become the new calling card for Made-in-China, which is also a world leader.

To be honest, with its advanced world-class technologies in NEVs, China is taking over as a global leader in the automobile market from European, US, and Japanese automakers, a sales manager surnamed Liao from the Weichai New Energy Commercial Vehicle Co told the Global Times on Sunday.

"As far as I know, many domestic EV manufacturers have no way to enter the US now. But if the US market wants advanced electric cars, it will have to import them from China," Liao said.

EVs, together with lithium batteries and solar cells, are hailed as the new pillars of China's foreign trade given their export boom, which manifests the country's continuous optimization in export structure and industrial upgrading.

The three industries had a total export volume of 264.7 billion yuan ($38.5 billion) in the first quarter of 2023, up 66.9 percent year-on-year and accounting for 4.7 percent of China's total exports, according to statistics released by the General Administration of Customs on April 13.

In the first quarter, China exported 248,000 NEVs, up 110 percent year-on-year, according to the latest data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

NEV exports showed that there is strong demand for Chinese products in the international market, in the context of the global economic downturn. China's export of NEVs is expected to maintain a strong momentum in the future, industry insiders said.