Shanghai auto show roundup: China plugs into electric cars in a big way


MG E-Motion concept, 2017 Shanghai auto show

MG E-Motion concept, 2017 Shanghai auto show

China has long aimed to be the global leader in battery cells, solar power, and electric vehicles.

But with more carrots and stronger sticks, electric-car sales started to rise in the country a couple of years ago.

With close to a fifth of the world’s population starting to consider cars powered by electricity, manufacturers are now focusing their attention on this thriving market.

DON’T MISS: 2018 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid carries over with few changes

That focus was on full display at this year's Shanghai auto show.

A wide array of electric and hybrid vehicles shared the stages of virtually every major automaker, offering a peek at what the future could hold for the automotive industry.

Here is a roundup of all things green that were shown in Shanghai, or at least most of the ones we felt were worth covering.

Audi e-tron Sportback Concept, 2017 Shanghai auto show [photo:Ronan Glon]

Audi e-tron Sportback Concept, 2017 Shanghai auto show [photo:Ronan Glon]

Audi e-tron Sportback Concept

Following in the footsteps of the battery-powered e-tron SUV that will launch next year, the Audi e-tron Sportback Concept shown last week adds a sprinkle of spirit to the clean-drive recipe.

The concept’s output is estimated at 429 horsepower, which would allow it to accelerate to about 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.

Its range has been estimated at about 240 miles, the same as the e-tron Quattro expected on the market in 2018.

Buick Velite 5, for sale in China, at 2017 Shanghai auto show [photo: Ronan Glon]

Buick Velite 5, for sale in China, at 2017 Shanghai auto show [photo: Ronan Glon]

Buick Velite 5

Buick has managed to build quite the enviable reputation on the Chinese market, dating back to its use by the last emperor of China 80-odd years ago.

GM couldn’t pass the opportunity to expand its luxury brand’s range by introducing a Chevrolet Volt in disguise.

The Buick Velite 5 introduced in Shanghai is in fact the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid, with a slightly altered design and appropriate badges.

The model will be built in China and will launch as one of 10 plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles GM plans on introducing in China by 2020.

Chevrolet FNR-X Concept for plug-in hybrid crossover, 2017 Shanghai auto show [photo: Ronan Glon]

Chevrolet FNR-X Concept for plug-in hybrid crossover, 2017 Shanghai auto show [photo: Ronan Glon]

Chevrolet FNR-X Concept

The maker of the plug-in hybrid Volt and the all-electric Bolt EV has tackled the hybrid crossover segment, a thriving one not only in North America but China too.

The muscular Chevrolet FNR-X design study includes a few advanced ideas such as autonomous driving in an off-road context, and fully removable seats as well as suicide doors for even more utility.

The model was launched without any figures and with only the terms hybrid, performance, and utility to whet our curiosity.

Honda CR-V Hybrid introduced at 2017 Shanghai auto show

Honda CR-V Hybrid introduced at 2017 Shanghai auto show

2018 Honda CR-V Hybrid

China will get a hybrid version of the new Honda CR-V crossover utility vehicle, scheduled to go on sale at the end of the year.

This version of the compact SUV will be powered by the same hybrid powertrain used in the Honda Accord Hybrid.

Despite Honda’s promise to electrify their main U.S. models including their light trucks, the hybrid CR-V hasn’t quite been confirmed for the North American market yet—but you should probably expect it soon.

Hybrid Kinetic K750 concept by Pininfarina, 2017 Shanghai auto show

Hybrid Kinetic K750 concept by Pininfarina, 2017 Shanghai auto show

Hybrid Kinetic K550 and K750 Concepts

Italian design firm Pininfarina signed off on the design of a pair of electric utility vehicle concepts presented by Chinese battery company Hybrid Kinetic.

After the introduction of its electric sedan concept H600 in Geneva last month, the company unveiled the K550 and K750 Concepts in Shanghai.

The K550 is the smaller, compact crossover option, with seating for five. The K750 is the full-size, family-oriented model with seven seats organized in three rows.

No figures or specifications have been announced for the two Ks, but if the H600 is any indication, we are looking at a claimed gasoline-electric range of up to 620 miles.

Jeep Yuntu concept, 2017 Shanghai auto show [photo: Ronan Glon]

Jeep Yuntu concept, 2017 Shanghai auto show [photo: Ronan Glon]

Jeep Yuntu Concept

It’s hard to imagine Jeep as an eco-friendly brand, but that might soon change.

The Jeep Yuntu made its debut in Shanghai as what could be the maker’s very first steps in the realm of plug-in hybrid technology.

Despite the concept sporting some very obvious “PHEV” badging, the maker has yet to confirm what the Yuntu’s mission or powertrain would be within its lineup.

Perhaps it's related to the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid plug-in minivan? We'll have to wait to learn more.

MG E-motion concept, 2017 Shanghai auto show [photo: Ronan Glon]

MG E-motion concept, 2017 Shanghai auto show [photo: Ronan Glon]

MG E-Motion Concept

The golden years of British automaker MG are a thing of the past. Its future, however, looks brighter and greener.

The now-Chinese-owned company unveiled an electric sports car concept, the MG E-Motion, complete with BMW i8-like "bird-wing" doors.

Were it to hit production, the E-Motion would step on Tesla’s toes as a luxury, fully electric model with an estimated range of 310 miles.

The maker also claims that its concept would do the 0-to-62-mph sprint in less than 4.0 seconds.

2018 Nio ES8

2018 Nio ES8

Nio ES8

Newborn manufacturer Nio already has two models under its belt after less than a year on the market.

Back in November, it launched its first production electric vehicle: the EP9 supercar, a 1,300-plus horsepower monster priced at more than $1,000,000.

This month in Shanghai, Nio followed up by unveiling a more accessible, all-electric, three-row SUV; the ES8.

While more details will be shared closer to the expected production start date at the end of the year, Nio has already confirmed that the ES8’s battery will be swappable.  

Qoros Model K-EV concept, 2017 Shanghai auto show

Qoros Model K-EV concept, 2017 Shanghai auto show

Qoros Model K-EV Concept

Another electric sports-car concept made its debut at the Shanghai auto show—and once again, Tesla is the target.

Presented with staggering claimed performance numbers, the Chinese-built Qoros K-EV Concept is yet another proof that electric doesn’t equal boring.

This Model S competitor has been advertised with a 300-mile range, an output of 870 horsepower, and the capacity to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in just 2.6 seconds.

Though only a concept, the Chinese manufacturer has already promised that a production version will be heading to the 2017 Guangzhou show this November.

Volkswagen ID Crozz concept, 2017 Shanghai auto show [photo: Ronan Glon]

Volkswagen ID Crozz concept, 2017 Shanghai auto show [photo: Ronan Glon]

Volkswagen ID Crozz Concept

The Volkswagen ID Crozz is the third model to join the automaker’s family of ID all-electric concept cars and to be built on its “MEB” platform. 

The ID Crozz, for crossover, adds some compact utility to the electric lineup.

Sporting what Volkswagen calls a “charismatic design”, the coupe crossover could offer a range estimated at up to 250 miles.

Mass production of Volkswagen’s ID models is scheduled to begin in 2020, starting with the hatchback introduced in Paris last year.

For all the green concept cars and production vehicles that appeared, visit our Shanghai auto show news page.

— Sabrina Giacomini

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