The show is not only a showcase for the world’s largest auto market, China, but in the past has also served as the launching pad for concepts, new models and facelifts from the biggest automobile manufacturers in the West, including the Audi A3 e-tron Concept (2011), Peugeot 301 (2013), Ford Mondeo (2013), McLaren 540C Coupe (2015), Aston Martin V8 Vantage S GB Edition (2017), Buick Velite 6 EV (2019) and the Volkswagen ID6 Crozz (2021).
However, many believe that the 2023 edition of the show will be used by Chinese electric vehicle manufacturers, led by No 1-seller, BYD, to call the end of the era when non-Chinese automakers such as Volkswagen and General Motors dominated the world’s largest market.
Reuters reported on 17 April that when auto executives convene in Shanghai for the auto show, they will return to a sharply different market from the one they left in 2021 when the industry gathered for a limited event under strict COVID-19 regulations.
The biggest change: China-made brands now lead in key segments, and their rise has been powered by new electric-drive models that are gaining share at home and overseas.
The biggest winner has been BYD, which will use the Shanghai show to unveil a new hatchback electric vehicle (EV) for value-seeking buyers and a pricier EV styled as an SUV.
BYD’s sales in China are up almost 69 per cent this year, giving it an 11 per cent share of the overall car market, more than the Volkswagen brand or the Toyota brand, according to an analysis of sales data.
"The stratification of this market into clear winners and losers is becoming clear," Bill Russo, founder of consultancy Automobility said in a note issued on Tuesday. "And there are very few winners and a whole lot of losers."
China’s passenger car sales were down 13 per cent in the first quarter, data from the China Passenger Car Association show.
But sales of EVs and plug-in hybrids – an area where Chinese automakers led by BYD now dominate – were up 22 per cent. Sales of internal-combustion vehicles were down by an almost equal margin.
The result has been a double whammy for the likes of Volkswagen, General Motors, Honda and Nissan. Sales are down and so is market share.
More than 40 auto brands have followed Tesla in cutting prices on EVs since January in a price war that has supported sales of EVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), both of which are classed as “new energy vehicles” in China. It has also cut into industry-wide profitability, analysts say.
This year the show will see the unveiling of the Audi Formula 1 car, BMW XM Red Label, HiPhi Y, Lexus LM, Mini Aceman and the Nissan Max Out concept car among a slew of others.
Tesla will be conspicuously absent from the show.