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City to charge ahead in growing new energy vehicle industry

China Daily Global | Updated:Sep 29, 2021

The Shanghai government is aiming for the city to become an industrial hub for new energy vehicles during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25).

According to a five-year development plan released by the government in February, new energy vehicle output will account for 35 percent of Shanghai's auto manufacturing industry and reach a value of 350 billion yuan ($54.22 billion) by 2025. Annual production capacity of new energy vehicles in Shanghai will be expanded to more than 1.2 million units by 2025.

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The construction of the second phase of Tesla Shanghai factory is ongoing. GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY

To accelerate the development of new energy vehicles, the Shanghai government will support companies to make breakthroughs in core technologies, connected vehicles and intelligent technologies. It also hopes to attain leadership in the development of core components and establish a complete industrial chain.

In the next five years, Shanghai will focus on 19 key tasks in five key areas, including industrial capability enhancement, creation of an industrial ecosystem, establishment of a green transportation energy system and integration of related systems and mechanisms.

Sales of new energy vehicles in Shanghai have been increasing in recent years. In 2020, more than 120,000 new energy vehicles were sold, compared with 70,000 in 2019.

With supportive policies for new energy vehicles from the Shanghai government, carmakers are stepping up efforts to seize the huge growth potential in China, the world's largest EV market.

Among them is General Motors, which announced the launch of its electric vehicle platform Ultium in China earlier this month.

According to the US carmaker, the platform is tailored for the Chinese market with Chinese customers' demands in mind. These include range, charging, price, safety and intelligent-connected features.

The core components of the platform will be completely supplied locally with the first model, the Cadillac Lyriq SUV, to be launched in 2022.

"We believe the inflection point of putting everybody in an EV and transitioning to an all-electric future has arrived, and GM intends to take the lead," said Mary Barra, chairwoman and CEO of GM.

Julian Blissett, GM executive vice-president and president of GM China, said the platform will "bring an inspiring, empowering and encouraging EV experience to Chinese consumers".

"It will help us connect with them in a more personal way to step up and step forward together for a new era of personal mobility," he said.

In 1997, GM joined hands with Chinese automaker SAIC Motor to establish two joint ventures: Shanghai GM and the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center. Today, GM has 11 joint ventures and two wholly owned foreign enterprises in China. It employs more than 50,000 people in the country.

In July, the company finished the upgrading of its GM China Advanced Design Center by doubling its space. The vehicle design facility is one of GM's three design centers in the world that designs the next generation of vehicles.

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GM displays its latest developments during the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show in May. CHINA DAILY

Drawing inspiration from the Chinese market, the center will focus on designs of electric vehicles and autonomous-driving vehicles. It will contribute to the company's ongoing effort to ramp up battery-electric vehicle development, GM said.

"Innovation allows us to adopt the best solutions available in a quick and agile way. More important, it will allow us to stay proactive in exploring synergies across the regions, to help us drive the once-in-a-century transformation of our industry," said Blissett.

Shanghai has become home to some of the world's top automotive design talent. The expansion will allow it to attract more local design talent, according to Blissett.

"We believe we now have the right strategy and the right technologies. We also believe that with facilities like the new GM China Advanced Design Center and its growing team of professionals, we have the right organizations and people to bring the most desirable products to China's consumers in the new era of electrification and connectivity."

With the fourth China International Import Expo approaching, GM will bring its latest products and technologies to the event, Blissett said.

GM sees the CIIE as an important platform to learn more about the needs of Chinese consumers and collect feedback from the market, which will help the company make adjustments, he said.

Following the fast progress of the auto industry in China over the past decades, GM is grasping each opportunity to further grow in the market. And the company will deliver on its long-term commitment to China, according to Blissett.

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