Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The News At Auto Shanghai 2017

Alexander Carabitses

Well, it's hard to believe that we have reached that part of the year again.  We've covered Paris, SEMA, Los Angeles, CES, Detroit, Chicago, Geneva, New York, and even a pair of local auto shows.  Now we wrap up the 2016-2017 auto show season in the Paris of the East, Shanghai.

There is no question that the Shanghai and Beijing Auto Shows (which alternate on an annual basis like Paris and Frankfurt) have become two of the biggest auto shows in the world.  However, if one is to look at the product that's actually showcased there, he or she would think otherwise, as so much of what's shown is destined exclusively for the Chinese market, such as the long wheelbase versions of the 2018 Acura TLX and the 2018 BMW 5 Series.  There is even some great looking sheetmetal in the forms of the MG E-Motion Concept, the Qoros Model-K EV Concept, the 2018 Citroen C5 Aircross, and the Renault RS 2027 Vision Concept that Europe can possibly anticipate, but the US will never see.
(Image credited to MG)
(Image credited to Qoros)
(Image credited to Renault)
(Image credited to Acura)
(Image credited to BMW)
(Image credited to Citroen)

However, there were still a good amount of models shown here that are worth taking note of, and I'll begin by mentioning the two latest electric offerings from the VW Group.  Volkswagen, itself, showed a new electric crossover concept, dubbed the I.D. Crozz.  While the name is kind of laughable, the vehicle that you see in the picture below is nearly production ready, and it promises a range of around 300 miles, which is impressive.  In the meantime, Audi launched the E-tron Sportback Concept, which is essentially another take on Audi's electric concept crossover that was shown at Frankfurt in 2015, only it now has a coupe-like roof line. Furthermore, this will hit production in 2019 (as will just about every other concept that you see in this post), while the concept from Frankfurt is unveiled next year.
(Image credited to Volkswagen)
(Image credited to Audi)

Another German luxury brand showed up in Shanghai with a pair of new models.  First up is the Mercedes-Benz Concept A Sedan, which previews the design language of the next generation of Mercedes small cars.  Next up is the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S Class.  Scheduled to be on sale by the end of the year, the refreshed flagship sedan gets mildly tweaked exterior and interior designs.  Also, thanks to a new system called Active Distance Assist Distronic, the car is able to adjust its speed automatically, as it heads towards a corner.  Finally, there are some mild updates to the powertrains and suspension components to improve driving dynamics across the range.
(Image credited to Mercedes-Benz)
(Image credited to Mercedes-Benz
(Image credited to Mercedes-Benz)
(Image credited to Mercedes-Benz)
(Image credited to Mercedes-Benz)

In addition to the long wheelbase 5 Series, BMW also showed the 460 horsepower 2018 M4 CS, which is meant to bridge the gap between the M4 Competition Package and the recently discontinued M4 GTS.  There are also some other performance and visual updates to this model, which help distinguish it from the Competition Package.  BMW's Mini division also rolled out the second generation, 2018 John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4.  The peppy crossover produces 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, all of which is sent to all four wheels via your choice of an 6-speed manual or an 8-speed auto.  Sales commence later this month.
(Image credited to BMW)
(Image credited to Mini)

If you are interested in a new model that isn't German, look no further than the 2018 Lexus NX, which features some design and dynamic enhancements for this early mid-cycle refresh.  In pictures at least, the F-Sport model doesn't look that bad, although the hybrid still seems overdone.  I guess the grille makes all of the difference.  I will also guess that given Lexus's recent trend of showing facelifted models in China, we'll be seeing a refreshed RX lineup in Beijing next year. Another important Japanese vehicle that will more than likely be headed to the US, on the heals of the Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4 hybrids, is the 2018 Honda CR-V Hybrid.  If you want information on the vehicle's performance and fuel economy, you will unfortunately have to wait because Honda hasn't divulged that information yet.
(Image credited to Lexus)
(Image credited to Honda)

Volvo had some news of its own in Shanghai, although it wasn't a new model.  Instead, it announced that by the end of the decade, it will be producing an electric car in China.  Part of me thinks that the move to build the car in China could serve as a means of satisfying a government that is making an enormous push towards plug-ins and EVs. Another part of me wants to believe that there will be some cost savings by building the car in China.  As for another bit of Volvo related news, Geely's Lync & Co launched their new crossover, which is dubbed 01.  There are two reasons that we should care about this.  First and foremost, this brand will exist in the US and Europe by 2019, offering customers the ability to subscribe to the company's service without ever buying a car.  It will work great in New York and other urban areas, while the rest of the country scoffs at it.  Either way, you can bet that owning Volvo allowed Geely to gauge US and European consumer preferences when developing this vehicle.  The second reason that we should care is for the simple fact that this crossover is built on the upcoming Volvo XC40's platform.  The company also showed a new concept car, dubbed the 03, and it is also destined to be produced on a Volvo platform.

(Image credited to Lync & Co)
(Image credited to Lync & Co)

Finally, we have the American automakers. Ford and Lincoln showcased models that US customers are already aware of, including the Ford Fusion Energi and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.  Following a similar tone from a powertrain perspective was FCA, which launched the Jeep Yuntu, a concept which previews a 7-passenger midsize SUV for China.  However, some of my sources seem to think that this could be an indication of the direction that Jeep will go for the interior design of the upcoming Jeep Wagoner and Grand Wagoneer, but at this point, that is all speculation.  Also, Jeep never announced when the Yuntu will make production.  Finally, we have General Motors, which showcased two new vehicles in Shanghai.  The first was the 2018 Buick Villette 5, which is nothing more than a rebadged Chevrolet Volt for China. For those of you who were hoping to see the new Regal GS, sorry, but I guess you'll have to wait awhile.  The second, is the second iteration of the FNR Concept from two years ago.  Dubbed the FNR-X, this new crossover was designed in GM's Pan-Asia design studios, and if one is to look at the overdone side sculpting on the model, it clearly shows.  As with nearly every concept at the show, this features a plug-in hybrid powertrain, and no, there are no immediate plans to produce this, although if it were, it would probably rival the Nissan Juke (while posing as internal competition for the Trax).
(Image credited to Jeep)
(Image credited to Buick)
(Image credited to Chevrolet)

That wraps up Auto Shanghai 2017.  Like I said before, it is hard to believe that the 2016-2017 auto show season has ended.  However, there will be a few outdoor lawn events and private events that will play host to many new model unveilings this summer, with the most noteworthy launch being the production version of the Tesla Model 3.  In the meantime, I plan on using the next post to delve into the highly sensitive topic about the future of the auto show as we know it.

Until then, thank you for reading and have a good week.

1 comment:

  1. Nice article brah! Wicked awesome! Love the effort brah! You're the man!