Reports are suggesting that China will lead the way in electric vehicle production and sales for years—and possibly decades—to come. Having sold one million EVs in 2018 (more than half of all global sales), that figure is set to double by 2020, as the country continues to produce new EV manufacturers. These volumes mean the industry can expect to see more manufacturers fighting for market share. As China aims to lead on future mobility, there has certainly been no shortage of the appearance of concept vehicles either in or from the country—a trend that shows no sign of stopping.
Level 4 MEB
Volkswagen has regularly shown battery-powered concepts over the past two years at international motor shows, and China’s recent Shanghai event was no exception. The latest in the German OEM’s ID range of future vehicles is the ID Roomzz, planned to be deployed in the Chinese market in 2021.
Roomzz is a mid-sized SUV powered by an 82-kW∙h battery that provides a range of up to 475 km (295 mi), based on Chinese range standards as well as the New European Driving Cycle. It takes 30 min to recharge the battery to 80% using a fast charging kit that offers 150 kW.
One of the goals of the vehicle is to demonstrate VW’s MEB platform, as it will be underpinning more than 10 million electric cars, if the company’s predictions come true. Armed with SAE Level 4 autonomous vehicle capabilities, Roomzz adapts to the driverless experience with front seats that rotate 25° to encourage a conversational environment. In addition, the car’s ID Pilot Relax configuration allows the seat to be fully reclined when in fully autonomous mode.
For it’s Shanghai showcase, Iconiq teamed up with W Motors from Dubai—the duo combining to create Muse, an autonomous concept for urban environments of the future. Additional technological assistance has been sought by W Motors and Iconiq from AKKA Technologies, Magna Steyr, and Microsoft in the development of the car, which is set to enter production in 2023. Prior to that date, consumers will see vehicles supporting Dubai’s Expo 2020, operating in specially dedicated zones.
Open up the gullwing doors of the four-seater and there is no shortage of innovation inside Muse. Two large screen and four personal tablets all offer individual connectivity via what Iconiq and W Motors are calling CEO.UX—comfort, entertainment, and office. Via this system, users will be protected by cutting-edge cybersecurity and safety systems, according to W Motors.
The Muse’s oversized dimensions include an overall vehicle width with outstretched gullwing doors of 3 m (9.8 ft) and an entry height of over 1.4 m (4.6 ft). The two front seats can been rotated to create a meeting room environment, while cloud connectivity allows users to access services for tourism, business, and health.
“Electric and autonomous cars are the future, this is undisputed,” said Ralph Debbas, Founder and CEO of W Motors. “It is estimated that electric vehicles will make up a massive 40-50% share of the global auto market by 2040, up from around 3% today. The transition from conventional vehicles to electric ones will happen sooner than expected due to cost efficiency and environmental awareness, and a shift in mindset away from car ownership will take this transport model one step further.”
Having debuted in Geneva with the U5 production vehicle, Aiways used the Shanghai show to debut the u7 ion concept vehicle. It featured the company’s FRM (standing for family, roomy, mobility) layout designed to bring occupants closer together as well as in-car AI (artificial intelligence) to help increase the level of personalization, comfort, and efficiency.
Mounted on a rail in the car’s interior is a self-learning robot, which can automatically move around the cabin, offering onboard sound recognition and passenger identification. Three rows of seats welcome passengers, who enter the car through rear-hinged rear doors alongside conventional front ones. The middle row of seats can be rotated to any configuration to suit, while the ambient lighting changes color and intensity according to volume of the conversation or the driving style. There is a full panoramic glass roof to create a light and airy environment, says Aiways.
Aiways has fully embraced the screen volume battle being played out by manufactures, as the U7 ion boasts 12 high-definition panels, including a touchscreen dashboard integrated into the steering wheel to save space and give easy access to key vehicle data. There is also a screen mounted on the mobile center console, which also houses a fridge, table, air purifier, and hot and cold cup holders.
There were no specific powertrain details released for the U7 ion, but there is a good chance that the U5’s 63-kW∙h battery will be deployed in the larger U7.
Old name; new ideas
One of the more familiar names on the show floor in Shanghai was Roewe, the brand created when British company Rover was sold to the China’s Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) in 2005. Today, as the luxury brand of SAIC, Roewe is combining comfort with technology, with the Vision-i as a flagship concept. Another variation on the traditional door layout—the Vision i goes for sliding rear and front items—and Level 4 autonomy are the key takeaways, but Roewe hinted at more advances for the forthcoming production model (set for 2020).
Vision-i claims to be the world’s first 5G-equipped intelligent connected vehicle, as Roewe is the sole Asian automotive company involved in the 5G Automotive Association—an international organization of companies from the automotive, technology, and telecommunications sector. It is also aiming to break the mold of interior screens, as it becomes the first car with a screenless cockpit.
On a broader EV level, SAIC has committed to building 50,000 public charging points by 2020, an investment of $3 billion.