South China Morning Post


Three firms mark down budget offerings to less than 100,000 yuan following recent move by BYD

- Daniel Ren

Three carmakers, including a General Motors (GM) venture, have priced their electric vehicles below the 100,000 yuan (HK$109,000) threshold in China, firing the first salvo in a price war that could reshape the country’s vehicle sector.

SAIC-GM-Wuling – GM’s three-way venture with Chinese partners SAIC Motor and Wuling Motors – Changan Automobile, and Hozon New Energy Automobile have this week cut prices of their budget models to below the psychologi­cally important 100,000-yuan level, hoping to accelerate the move to electric cars amid economic headwinds.

“It is a critical year for newenergy vehicle companies in 2024 because of harsh competitio­n,” said Cui Dongshu, general secretary of the China Passenger Car Associatio­n (CPCA).

“Most car assemblers are set to offer discounts and engage in price wars to retain market share.”

On Monday, SAIC-GM-Wuling marked down the price of its Xingguang hybrid by 6,000 yuan to 99,800 yuan, Changan slashed the price of its Qiyuan Q05 sport utility vehicle by 12,000 yuan to 73,900 yuan, while Hozon discounted its Neta X sport utility vehicle by 22,000 yuan to 99,800 yuan.

These reductions followed a move by BYD last weekend to offer an electric car priced below 100,000 yuan to take on bestsellin­g petrol cars, such as Volkswagen’s Lavida and Toyota’s Corolla.

Shenzhen-based BYD, the world’s largest electric-vehicle maker, recently launched a new version of its plug-in hybrid model, the Qin Plus DM-i, with prices starting at 79,800 yuan, 20 per cent below the previous edition.

“Lower battery costs have enabled electric-car makers to adopt pricing strategies that enable them to compete with petrol-car manufactur­ers,” said Zhao Zhen, a sales director with Shanghaiba­sed dealer Wan Zhuo Auto.

“Since more Chinese motorists now prefer electric cars to convention­al petrol-powered vehicles, BYD and its electricve­hicle counterpar­ts will gain the upper hand … with price cuts.”

VW’s entry-level Lavida is priced at 94,000 yuan, and the basic Corolla sells for 122,800 yuan. In China, two of every five new cars sold are now powered by batteries.

Cui said intelligen­t features on electric vehicles such as autonomous driving technology were winning over younger drivers.

Meanwhile, budget-conscious drivers are now looking to buy low-priced electric cars owing to worries about job prospects and wages.

According to data from the CPCA, 284,000 cars priced between 50,000 yuan and 100,000 yuan were delivered to mainland customers in January, accounting for 14 per cent of total vehicle sales across the country.

New price cuts in the industry kicked in at the end of last year with top players such as BYD and Xpeng leading the charge. Electric-vehicle makers sold 8.9 million vehicles to mainland buyers in 2023, a 37 per cent yearon-year increase, according to the CPCA.

However, Fitch Ratings warned last November growth of electric-vehicle sales could slow to 20 per cent in China in 2024 amid economic uncertaint­ies and intensifyi­ng competitio­n.

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