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Shanghai show: SAIC bets big on EVs

Chinese charge: Each of SAIC's models will be offered with an electric powertrain from 2025, including passenger vehicles from MG and light-commercial vehicles from LDV.

SAIC commits to electrifying all Maxus (LDV), MG and Roewe models by 2025

LDV logo22 Apr 2019

By NEIL DOWLING in SHANGHAI

DEDICATED light-commercial vehicle (LCV) manufacturer Maxus – known in Australia as LDV, and imported and distributed by Ateco Group – has promised its entire range will be available with electric power by 2025.
 
As part of China’s huge SAIC Motor, who also counts MG Motor under its umbrella, LDV models available Down Under include its best-selling T60 pick-up, D90 large SUV, and the G10 and V80 vans.
 
Speaking to GoAuto during last week’s Shanghai motor show, SAIC deputy managing director Matt Lei said the introduction of a new flexible platform, dubbed Maxus Intelligent Flexible Architecture (MIFA) will enable electrification in LDV’s line-up.
 
“MIFA will allow EV to be used across the LDV range,” he said. “It will be available in three types to suit applications such as car, SUV and van.”
 
An electrified LDV T60 could take on the proposed emissions-free Great Wall ute, which was shown at this year’s Shanghai motor show in combustion-engined concept guise, as well as all-electric pick-ups from Tesla and Rivian.
 
As for the rest of SAIC’s automotive brands, all MG and Roewe models will also gain an electric option over the next six years, with the eZS small SUV already confirmed to hit Australian showrooms sometime over the next 12 months.
 
Mr Lei said SAIC’s electric vehicle (EV) sales is expected to swell to 600,000 by the end of next year, more than quadruple the 140,000 units sold in 2018 that represented around 17 per cent of the company’s 827,900 overall tally.
 
The EV push comes despite the Chinese government announcing annual reductions in buyer subsidies for vehicles with electrified powertrains, however, Mr Lei said charging infrastructure will ramp up substantially in the near future in line with the brand’s ambitions.
 
Meanwhile, the SAIC general manager Qiuhua Yu said electricity supply is not seen as a problem in China as the country expands its sustainable-energy power stations, but foresaw problems with accessing batteries for EVs.
 
“We need new policies for batteries,” he said at the company’s press conference held last week at the Shanghai motor show.
 
“We have a bottleneck on batteries and we hope that will change within five years.
 
“The EV is gaining momentum and that suits sales in countries that have policies for EVs, such as many European countries.
 
“But we still have to produce the cars for those markets and that’s why we need to refine battery policies.”
 
Mr Yu would not elaborate on how the battery supply problem would be fixed in the short term, but the roadblock has not interrupted its plans to expand EV production into each of SAIC’s model lines. 
 
He said SAIC would continue development of hydrogen fuel-cell EVs, but it was not the priority.
 
Finally, Mr Lei said there are also future opportunities in vehicle sharing and intelligent connectivity for the Chinese company.
 
“We launched a ride-hailing service in 2018 and have 1400 vehicles in service,” he said.
 
“We also have our car-sharing business EVcard now with 45,000 vehicles in service in 64 cities in China and with 90,000 daily orders.”
 
SAIC also recently partnered with Chinese online sales business Alibaba to allow customers to build their cars on the internet, which has now expanded outside its home market said Mr Lei.
 
“The first for us outside China has been the sales of the MG ZS using the i-Smart service,” he said.
 
“This was opened also in Thailand in November 2017 and we are expanding that service to other overseas markets.”
 
The partnership also extends to Ali-Pay payment and finance for SAIC vehicles, and to the Ali OS connectivity suite that has tiers of infotainment services, including applications for fleet operators that remotely monitors vehicle location and maintenance requirements.
 
SAIC is represented in Australia with factory-owned MG Motor Australia for MG vehicles, and independent distributor Ateco for LDV. 
 
MG has 35 dealers in Australia and New Zealand and LDV under Ateco has 70 dealers in Australia.

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