Author: Zheng Senhong
“Although pure electric is the ultimate direction, plug-in hybrids and range-extended electric vehicles still have great potential and space in this process. The two will not be either/or, but rather a choice for users,” said Miao Wei, former minister of industry and information technology, at the China Electric Vehicle 100-Person Forum (2023) with regards to the plug-in hybrid market.
According to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, in 2022, the total delivery volume of new energy vehicles in China was approximately 5.6742 million, with a penetration rate of 27.6% in the overall automobile market. In other words, for every four cars sold domestically in 2022, one was a new energy vehicle, either pure electric or a plug-in hybrid.
- Sales of pure electric vehicles reached 5.365 million, a year-on-year growth of 81.6%.
- Sales of plug-in hybrid vehicles reached 1.518 million, a year-on-year growth of 150%.
It is undeniable that although pure electric vehicles still dominate the overall new energy vehicle sales, the growth rate of plug-in hybrids in the past year has been nearly twice that of pure electric vehicles.
This also illustrates that from the product year of 2021 to the sales explosion of 2022, hybrid models have become an unstoppable force in the new energy vehicle market.
This phenomenon can be traced back to the dumbbell-shaped structure of the current Chinese electric vehicle market:
- The high-end market for vehicles priced over 200,000 yuan.
- The 100,000 to 200,000 yuan price range, which has the weakest demand for new energy vehicles.
From a market perspective, the Chinese market not only requires pure electric products but also cheaper and more durable hybrid products. This also means that whoever can produce plug-in hybrid products in the 100,000 to 200,000-yuan price range can take the lead in the market.
The 150,000-yuan hybrid market is on the verge of exploding
In the long run, the dumbbell-shaped sales structure will not continue.
Referring to the sales structure of Chinese passenger cars (including fuel cars), it can be divided into four price ranges: below 100,000 yuan, 100,000 to 150,000 yuan, 150,000 to 200,000 yuan, and over 200,000 yuan. The market share of these four price segments is relatively balanced.
According to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, in 2022, these four price ranges accounted for 28.7%, 26.7%, 19.6%, and 25.0% of the market share, respectively.As the new energy vehicle market continues to mature, the transition from “dumbbell” structure to “balanced” structure is only a matter of time. This also means that the mid-range new energy vehicle market in the price range of RMB 100,000 to 200,000 will continue to be the most fiercely competitive segment.
According to Cui Dongshu, Secretary General of the China Passenger Car Association, the sales of new energy vehicle models priced below RMB 200,000 account for more than 50% of the domestic market, and it is expected that the market share of models priced below RMB 200,000 will be over 70% in the future.
Ouyang Minggao, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and vice chairman of the Hundred People’s Association, believes that plug-in hybrid is definitely an upward trend in the current stage of high electric vehicle prices, high battery costs, and declining or discontinued subsidies. It will be more popular among mainstream models for household cars priced between RMB 100,000 to RMB 200,000, especially for plug-in hybrids.
Consumers in this price range account for a large proportion of first-time car buyers. Typical car purchasing needs are: they want to experience the driving feeling of a pure electric vehicle, but also want the worry-free range of a hybrid vehicle, as well as the convenience of refueling of a gasoline vehicle.
“The world has ten hybrids, Toyota occupies eight, Honda has a small portion, and the rest is shared by others.” This is the answer given by the part of buyers in this rigid demand car purchasing group.
How to take back this “meat” from joint venture automakers, and even establish a long-term presence in this high-potential, high-growth, and high-return segment market, domestic automakers undoubtedly need to produce products that can achieve “both, and also”.
Today, BYD, which has more than 60% market share in the plug-in hybrid segment, clearly knows what consumers in this price range need.
In the best-selling plug-in hybrid models in 2022, BYD occupies the top five, with its Song DM series selling 346,493 units, Qin PLUS DM-i selling 175,943 units, and the Destroyer 05 selling 55,842 units respectively, totaling more than 580, 000 units, accounting for about 64% of BYD’s DM series sales.“`
Specifically, the sales of nearly 350,000 units of the Song DM series also confirmed the demand of domestic consumers for SUVs.
In 2022, compact SUVs accounted for 51.1% of the entire automobile market, becoming the largest segmented market in China’s automobile industry.
Faced with this mainstream segmented market, other domestic brands cannot help but respond. Great Wall’s Magic DHT-PHEV, Geely’s Star Voyager new energy vehicle, and SAIC’s third-generation Roewe Super Hybrid eRX5 have all been launched.
However, from a product perspective, although these compact SUV models represent the latest hybrid technology of each brand, if they want to compete with BYD’s Song DM series and Yuan Plus, perhaps only Roewe eRX5, which boasts “luxury replacement at 120,000 RMB”, can become the second choice for buying demanders.
Everest architecture, parallel superiority of fuel hybrid
In 2016, the first generation of Roewe RX5 was launched and sold 90,000 units in less than half a year. In the first full year of the market, the Roewe RX5 set a sales record of 237,000 units, with an average monthly sales of nearly 20,000 units, becoming the main product of the Roewe brand.
In 2018, Roewe RX5 accumulated 224,000 units sold and consecutively ranked in the first tier of domestic SUV for two years with the same sales volume scale as Geely Boyue, CS75 and other models.
Now, the Roewe RX5 has come to its third-generation product. If following the pace of international brands, which is mid-term facelift in 3-4 years and replacement in 6-8 years, Roewe has compressed the time by half.
Compared with the previous two generations, the “Everest electromechanical integrated architecture” has become the highlight of the third-generation Roewe eRX5.
Firstly, Everest architecture realizes full coverage of compact, middle to high-end size, and full style coverage from sedans, SUVs to MPVs for all categories.
Secondly, the biggest advantage of Everest architecture is that it is electromechanical integrated, able to blend both fuel energy and electric energy, and three driving forms, which are 100% engine driven, engine + motor driven, and 100% motor driven.
“`According to Roewe, the Everest architecture offers a “dual-source and multi-core” configuration that provides ten power combinations, including five engine and gearbox systems and five engine and electric motor drive systems. This allows for both “spontaneous” and “smooth” driving experiences.
During the test drive, the engine’s throttle response was very comfortable, with the EDU G2 Plus super electric drive matching the engine’s rhythm in a smooth and seamless manner.
In addition, the fuel economy was impressive, although this was not tested under high-speed conditions due to the short test-drive time and mainly driving in congested city roads. According to official data, the Roewe eRX5 has a range of 61 kilometers and a minimum NEDC fuel consumption of 4.8 liters per 100 kilometers. The comprehensive fuel consumption is as low as 1.4 liters per 100 kilometers with full fuel and electricity.
It is worth mentioning that eRX5 supports AC slow charging, and if consumers in third- and fourth-tier cities have convenient home charging conditions, they can use pure electric travel on a daily basis, charging only once every two or three days. Even without slow-charging conditions, the hybrid mode only costs two to three cents per kilometer, making it a very good economic choice.
In the 100-200 thousand yuan compact SUV market, Roewe RX5 achieved monthly sales of more than 28,000 units in the past, but now faces competition from various models, including BYD Song DM series, Element PLUS, Haval H6, Borgward BX5, and Changan CS75.
To reproduce the glory of the first-generation Roewe RX5, the third-generation RX5 may need to be empowered in terms of intelligence.
As the “world’s first mass-produced Internet car,” intelligence is a DNA gene embedded in Roewe’s genes. The new power players are targeting affordable and intelligent vehicles.“`
2016, Roewe successfully broke through the circle with the concept of “Internet car” of RX5, while Audi was still immersed in its third-generation MMI system.
In the rapidly evolving era of intelligence, performance and space are no longer the only standards to measure a car’s quality.
In the first generation of Roewe RX5, more than 70% of users chose the internet version, which is not included in the basic version of Roewe RX5.
From the data, the core selling point of the first-generation RX5 is the large vertical central control screen. However, simply relying on a large screen is no longer a competitive differentiation. In comparison, BYD’s rotating screen, Lantu Free’s lifting central control screen, and the three-screen display of new forces make it difficult for the third-generation Roewe RX5 to stand out. The new RX5 has a long sliding screen that can be slid left and right on the center console.
The main function of this slidescreen is to move it to the right for the passenger to operate and watch videos more conveniently while parking.
From a cost perspective, this design seems to only increase the “cost of purchase”, as this additional “slide” function requires an extra 5000 yuan.
But from the perspective of convenience, when the driver needs to search for map positions for navigation or operate some vehicle control functions, the one-click sliding function can allow the passenger to help operate without the need to “turn their neck,” and then return to their original position.
Behind this 12.3-inch screen, the true core selling point of the third-generation Roewe RX5 lies in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8155 chip it carries. Although this is already the most commonly used configuration for intelligent cockpit in the industry, compared with the MediaTek MT8666 chip used by the best-selling Chang’an CS75 PLUS at the same level or the Qualcomm 665 chip used by the BYD Song PLUS, the third-generation Roewe RX5 stands out with its highest sincerity.
In fact, even in the high-end market above 200,000 yuan, fuel cars equipped with 8155 chip are rare and even more so at the 150,000 yuan level.
And the hardware configuration, combined with the manufacturer's optimization for the infotainment system, can obviously enhance the experience of the infotainment and a series of intelligent functions. !(https://42how-com.oss-cn-beijing.aliyuncs.com/article/result%20(11)_20230224182952.png) In actual operation, whether it's the smoothness of features switching or dragging the map, or the voice functions of continuous conversation and visible voice recognition, the third-generation Roewe RX5 is not inferior to the cockpit level of a group of new forces. The third-generation Roewe RX5 has also put a lot of effort into the intelligent driving level, with a total of **28** sensors installed throughout the car. - 1 800-megapixel forward-facing camera - 5 2-megapixel panoramic cameras - 4 360° panoramic cameras - 3 millimeter-wave radars - 12 ultrasonic radars In addition, in order to meet the computing power requirements of sensors and radars, the Roewe RX5 is equipped with 3 Horizon Journey 3 chips, plus high-precision maps assistance. Roewe RX5 is also the **first fuel-powered model equipped with the high-speed NGP function**. From the performance of its functions, the previous engineering test cars have demonstrated high efficiency in large curvature bends, continuous downhill ramps, and variable lane-change strategies. Even when facing sections with missing high-precision maps, the Roewe RX5 can support downgrade processing based on its visual perception, continuing to run in LCC status. From hardware configuration to functional scenarios, the third-generation Roewe RX5 has already reached the level of many two to three hundred thousand-dollar car models, which also explains why the third-generation Roewe RX5 received more than 10,000 orders within 2 hours of pre-sales, with an average of **83 new users** added every minute. !(https://42how-com.oss-cn-beijing.aliyuncs.com/article/result%20(12)_20230224183006.png) Returning to the fundamental problem of the automobile market, for most Chinese consumers, cars are a necessity, and as the first family car in many cases. With limited budgets, the embarrassing situation of "you can't have it both ways" has always been a problem for users.``` <p> The Roewe RX5 has matured through the development of its first two generations, and has a deep understanding of the pain points of domestic market consumers. Perhaps it can re-enter the top ten of domestic SUV sales. From a historical perspective, in 2016 the Roewe RX5 was born, in 2018 “Wei Xiaoli” made its first appearance, and Huawei launched the car-mounted Hongmeng system on the M5 line. At least three iterations have been made for the Chinese auto industry in terms of intelligence. For domestic users, the central control large screen and software upgrades are already common. In contrast, the answers given by joint venture brands are not as optimistic as expected. Taking the Toyota BZ4X as an example, although this car is built on a pure electric platform, it exudes the "smell" of fuel vehicles from top to bottom. The same 12.3-inch central control screen can only rely on Carplay to support the entertainment system. Nowadays, Toyota, which has always maintained high prices, has also offered a cash discount of **30,000** yuan, which is equivalent to directly lowering the selling price threshold to 169,800 yuan (originally starting at 199,800 yuan). This is even cheaper than some domestic brands' pure electric products at the same level, such as the BYD Song PLUS EV and the SERES SF5. The market around 150,000 yuan is the battlefield for joint venture and domestic compact car models. In the era of fuel vehicles, this price range includes Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail and other frequently sold car models. In the new energy vehicle era, hybrid models such as the BYD Song series and Yuan PLUS have begun to occupy the price range. How to further lever the largest market share of joint venture brands depends on whether other domestic brands can follow up the trend. For consumers at this price point, an SUV with an experience and usage cost close to that of a pure electric vehicle and with sufficient configuration is a rational choice, and the third generation Roewe RX5 has shown its anticipated potential. </p>
This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.