Volkswagen calls NIO and BYD “direct competitors”
In the United States, Chinese cars are rarely discussed, let alone seen as a real threat to the automotive status quo. But those “in the know” know better, and now Volkswagen – one of the world’s largest automakers – is calling BYD and NIO “direct competitors”.
The comment was made during the explanation of a slide presented at an April 20 meeting to discuss the Volkswagen Group’s “NEW AUTO” strategy which aims to transform VW and its subsidiaries into “a global force” in the areas of car manufacturing, automation (“mechatronics”), software development, electric vehicle batteries and new “mobility” solutions. The slide shows who Volkswagen considers rival automakers worth taking with into account – and NIO and BYD weren’t the only surprises there.
Do you see it? Hyundai is no surprise, and neither are Tesla and XPeng (really). No, the surprising “threat” Volkswagen sees comes from Stellantis, the parent company of the Chrysler, Jeep and Fiat brads. And, frankly, it’s surprising because Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares doesn’t seem particularly convinced that the company can remain profitable in the race to electrify.
“In the transition to ‘NEW AUTO’, our competitors will not only be Mercedes-Benz, Toyota or the Stellantis Group,” said VW Chairman Herbert Diess, “but also Tesla, Foxconn, Apple, LG Electronics, Uber , etc.”
Hearing the Stellantis Group mentioned in the same breath as Mercedes, Tesla, Foxconn and Apple is a little shocking for this writing, at least. Maybe Steve too – and anyone who lived through the K-Car era of FWD Mopars. That said, the latest Chrysler Airflow looks the part, and the electric Jeep Wrangler concepts continue to challenge the average Jeep fan’s notions of what’s possible, so…maybe?
Volkswagen’s fight in China
The most popular Chinese car brands are starting to make their way to Europe, but the same cannot necessarily be said for European brands in China. There, Volkswagen had predicted that its Model ID cars could sell for up to 100,000 units. They are way below that number, making just over 70,000 unit sales. An indication, according to Car News China, that consumers there prefer more driver-oriented technology than what’s on offer in relatively low-tech VWs.
VW’s luxury brands didn’t fare much better, with Porsche and Audi being largely overtaken by offerings from local brands Hongqi and Human Horizons. Tesla, meanwhile, sold 310,000 units, outpacing everyone else.
It’s hard to know who will emerge victorious from the industry shake-up coming with electrification, but one thing is certain, even for giants like Volkswagen: times are changing.
spring | Pictures: Volkswagen, via Car News China.
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