The Zeekr 009 is the ideal car of every American. The luxurious interior features massage seating and satiny leather. Face and voice recognition technologies from the future make driving effortless. In addition, the 009 has more than 500 horsepower.
Not familiar with the Zeekr 009? You are not isolated. Only China sells the all-electric minivan (repeat: all-electric minivan).
Geely’s Zeekr also manufactures the 001, an elegant all-electric sedan capable of traveling 621 miles on a single charge. That is more than twice the average range of an EV in the United States.
It is difficult to quantify the number of electric vehicles in China, according to Jared Rosenholtz, editor-at-large at CarBuzz, who spoke to ABC News. “Vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, but many are not designed for the U.S. market.”
There are 138 manufacturers in China, the world’s largest auto market. According to J.D. Power, at least forty of the 138 are electric-only companies. According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, EV sales in China totaled 6.9 million units in 2017, a 93.4% increase compared to the previous year.
ABC News quoted Ed Kim, president and chief analyst at AutoPacific, as saying, “The market is, in many ways, a little bit crazy.” “Out there, EVs are proliferating… it’s the Wild West. The vast variety of options is astounding. China’s companies are developing incredibly advanced vehicles.
Consider the Zeekr 009, for instance. Minivans are reviled in the United States. In China, they are venerated. According to Kim, minivans are “prestigious” modes of transportation, and many executives and VIPs are chauffeured in them.
Kim remarked, “The Zeekr 009 is the most daring minivan I’ve ever seen.” “A gigantic screen descends to accommodate passengers. The second row resembles a throne. It is very luxurious and has all-wheel drive. Not your mother’s Dodge Caravan.”
Rosenholtz of CarBuzz noted, however, that many EVs in China are diminutive and have a fraction of the strength that Americans desire in their automobiles. General Motors produces the GM Wuling Mini EV Cabrio, a cute convertible, with its joint venture, SAIC-GM-Wuling.
The vehicle can barely reach 60 miles per hour and produces less than 40 horsepower, but it is inexpensive — less than $9,000 — and simple to maneuver through China’s congested city streets.
“The top Wuling model only has a range of 166 miles, but cars are utilized differently in China,” said Rosenholtz. “There, consumers travel lesser distances. They require compact vehicles.”
Kim added that another significant distinction between Chinese and American EV drivers is the ability to charge overnight. “China’s population density is extremely high, and even wealthy Chinese live in apartments,” he said. Chinese drivers may not have the same access to home charging as their American counterparts.
In addition to electric minivans and cute convertibles, the Chinese automaker XPeng claims that its G9 SUV is the “fastest-charging EV” in the world, with the ability to add 200 kilometers of range, or about 124 miles, in less than five minutes when connected to a 480-kilowatt charging receptacle.
“There is so little awareness of what’s in China, most likely due to the language barrier,” Kim stated. “Chinese media is also heavily censored and controlled.”
In addition, the United States imposes a 25% tariff on Chinese imports, creating a further barrier to entry for these innovative EVs.
“Don’t hold your breath for an XPeng,” Kim advised. The majority of Chinese brands will remain there.
According to Kim, greater acceptance of EVs in China can be attributed in part to the country’s government, which “has pushed the EV cause so aggressively.” According to J.D. Power, as of January 1, the Chinese government no longer offers generous subsidies to purchasers of electric vehicles. However, consumers are still entitled to a 10% purchase tax exemption until the end of the year.
Tesla, the undisputed EV market leader in the United States, is also wildly popular among Chinese drivers. It manufactures the coveted Tesla Model Y and Model 3 at its Shanghai factory and operates independently, unlike its foreign rivals.
“Tesla is one of the few foreign automakers having tremendous success in China,” Kim said.
In May, Ford CEO Jim Farley acknowledged China’s disproportionate impact on the EV market, stating, “I believe we view the Chinese as our primary competitor, not GM or Toyota. The Chinese will be the dominant power.”
However, J.D. Power’s vice president of data and analytics, Tyson Jominy, argued that U.S. consumers have a significantly larger selection of EVs to choose from, including the GMC Hummer EV Pickup, Ford F-150 Lightning, and Rivian R1T truck. Moreover, he stated that “niche” and diminutive EVs driven by Chinese consumers would not perform well in the United States until the public charging infrastructure catches up.
“We get the coolest EVs,” Jominy declared to ABC News. “The American market is fun-to-drive, high-tech, and performance-oriented”
Kim stated that he will go to them rather than wait if Chinese EVs remain stationary in China.
“I would love a two-week vacation in China to sample all of these EVs,” he said.