SHANGHAI (AP) — Volkswagen unveiled an electric SUV made for China ahead of the opening Monday of the Shanghai auto show, the industry’s biggest marketing event in a year overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Automakers are looking to China, their biggest market by sales volume and the first major economy to rebound from the pandemic, to revive sales and reverse multibillion-dollar losses.
Ford, Nissan and other brands planned to debut new models for China at the show, which opened under anti-virus controls. Few auto executives from abroad attended. Reporters were required to undergo virus tests.
VW’s ID.6 SUV reflects growing industry momentum toward electrification and designing models for Chinese tastes. VW said the six- and seven-seat models aim to create a “lounge on wheels” with semi-automated driving and other advanced technology.
Ford Motor Co. planned to present its first SUV created for global sales under a strategy to rely more heavily on its China operations for product development.
First-quarter sales of SUVs, sedans and minivans in China jumped 75.6% over a year earlier, when the ruling Communist Party closed factories and dealerships to fight the virus, according to an industry group, the China Association of Auto Manufacturers. By contrast, Edmunds.com Inc. forecast quarterly U.S. sales would rise 8.9% over a year ago but would be off 8.6% from the final quarter of 2020.
Sales of electric vehicles in China, the biggest market for that technology, nearly tripled in the first three months of 2021 over a year earlier to 515,000 units, according to CAAC.
Nissan Motor Co. planned to unveil its X-Trail crossover for the China market and its e-POWER electrified power train.