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Dancing supercars to hologram-fitted convertibles: Auto rivals lure drivers

Some of the world's biggest automakers showed off their latest models at the bustling auto show in Shanghai

BMW

BMW

Agencies Shanghai

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From sci-fi style concept cars featuring holograms and neon lights, to more run-of-the-mill hatchbacks, some of the world’s biggest automakers showed off their latest models at the bustling auto show in Shanghai.

Once again, battery power took centre stage, with makers jostling to show off their electrification credentials. At the first such showcase in China since the country’s Covid-19 curbs ended, BYD showed off its two-door sports supercar, Yangwang U9, that can go from zero to 60 miles an hour in just two seconds. Equipped with the Chinese automaker’s advanced DiSus-X vehicle control system, the vehicle can adjust its height, dance and even hop off the ground.  It is expected to start from around $145,000.

Nissan’s Max-Out electric convertible, a concept car first introduced in 2021, was exhibited in the form of physical prototype at the Shanghai show. With a low centre of gravity, neon lighting and holographic projections on its wheels, the vehicle looks like it comes right out of a sci-fi movie.

Zeekr, a premium electric vehicle (EV) brand owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, highlighted how its newly released X model SUV has seats that can massage passengers.

Many other Chinese brands showed off dashboard touch screens that allow users to sing karaoke or play games on the go, popular pursuits for consumers in a market where nimble domestic automakers have stolen a march on traditional Western brands that once dominated.

Mercedes went all out with its first all-electric production vehicle, the Maybach EQS. It has all the luxurious touches you’d expect from an ultra-luxury brand, from its two-tone paint finish and 24-inch light alloy wheels, to the spacious individual rear seats, where the white-piano lacquer and deep-sea blue trim evoke feelings of being on an elegant yacht. Expected to start at $200,000, the standard all-wheel drive option may get about 370 miles per charge.

Polestar, a premium EV maker founded by Volvo and Geely, presented its Polestar 4 SUV coupe, set to go into production at the end of this year, which does away altogether with a rear window, instead relying on HD cameras mounted to its roof to show drivers what’s behind them.

The feature maximises visibility and space for passengers in the back seat of the vehicle, Polestar said.
Popular video game engine company Unity showed how it is helping companies like Li Auto transform their dashboard display into a 3D game-like interface, as well as displaying its version of the cockpit of the future at the auto show.

Chinese automakers have been grabbing market share from foreign rivals in recent years in part by courting drivers with tailored lifestyle services and by releasing new models more quickly. They have also been extremely aggressive in coming up with innovations.

And while European carmakers commonly charge additional fees for features such as side view mirrors that retract when cars are parked, Chinese automakers tend to throw these features in for free, adding value to their already lower price points.


BMW skids into ice cream melee


Chinese internet users berated German automaker BMW on Thursday, accusing it of discrimination at the Shanghai auto show amid claims workers at its Mini booth favoured foreign over domestic visitors during an ice cream giveaway promotion. Mini apologised for the incident in question, saying in a statement on its official Weibo account that it was caused by poor internal management and that it would improve training.

One video showed two Chinese workers telling some local visitors to the Mini stand that the free ice cream had run out, only to offer a tub moments later to a Western attendee. The topic ‘BMW Mini’ became the second most-searched topic on China’s Weibo social media platform, with over 93 million views with users reposting pictures and videos.

Reuters

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First Published: Apr 20 2023 | 11:05 PM IST

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