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A Taste of Shanghai: Concepts, EVs, Crowds

April 22 – Shanghai – Automakers are offering a cornucopia of choice for Chinese consumers and enthusiasts at Asia’s top auto show in Shanghai.

For Nissan, the China-centric Friend-ME concept is the product of deep market research and consumer-tailored design by a Beijing-based team looking to create a car for a generation.

Nissan Executive Vice President Andy Palmer says Friend-ME is as tech-savvy and modern as the young Chinese consumer it is designed for.

“It doesn’t come any more Chinese than this. This is about a car exclusively focused on the balinghou generation, the generation that is the product of the single-child policy in China.”

Venucia, the local brand for Dongfeng Nissan, pushed its eco-friendly lineup at the Shanghai show, as well as its plans for electric vehicle leadership ahead.

Ren Yong, vice president of Dongfeng Nissan, says the brand has a road map to be China’s premier EV automaker.

“During the later half of this year, we will introduce a batch of Venucia electric vehicles to Guangzhou, Dalian and other cities. Through such promotions, we hope to introduce our electric cars in large-scale to the market by 2015.”

Some 800,000 visitors are expected at the Shanghai auto show, where more than 2,000 exhibitors have their best and brightest on display – from high-end to low, from practical people-mover to excessive exuberance.

Industry analyst Michael Dunne says China is one of the most crowded auto markets in the world with growth in the foreseeable future, but some consolidation of players is on the horizon.

“We’re looking for consolidation – far too many brands. More brands here are available, by far, than anywhere else in the world, including the United States,” said Dunne.

“What’s kept them around is that the market has been so sensational that you didn’t have to be great to in the game. As capacity kicks in and the rate of growth slows, we’re going to see the weaker players get forced out.”

In a nation of 1.4 billion people, garnering even a small share of business can still be lucrative, but with taxes high on imports localization is an imperative.

Estimates are for nearly 20 million cars to be built this year in China, usually meaning a slice of the $1.3-trillion market will certainly have a Chinese flavor.

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