Our pandemic-hit world may be a little way off yet from returning to normality, but one sign of encouragement came from the auto industry this week as people returned to the floors of a major motor show.
Auto Shanghai 2021 hasn’t disappointed, as car makers from all around the world flocked to the city’s National Exhibition and Convention Centre to showcase their latest four-wheeled wares.
And the vast majority of them are powered solely by batteries, as the industry continues its unrelenting push towards electric vehicles.
China is a good place to display your new EV, too. It’s the world’s largest market, it’s one of the biggest markets for EVs, and China new-car sales have recovered from the pandemic faster than most countries.
Here’s our guide to the key models of Auto Shanghai 2021 – most of which are coming to Australia…
Audi E-Tron A6 concept
No prizes for guessing this is essentially a fully electric version of Audi’s A6 large car, due in 2022.
Beneath the sleek, A7-like Sportback body style, however, is the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture developed in conjunction with Porsche and set to underpin a whole range of both SUVs and passenger cars.
These will include Audi’s own Q6 E-Tron SUV and the twinned Porsche Macan EV.
The flexible PPE allows for scalable wheelbases and battery sizes. The E-Tron A6 concept’s battery module is rated at 100kWh and has a WLTP range of 700km-plus.
An 800V charging architecture shared with the Audi E-Tron GT/Porsche Taycan twins has the potential to add 300km of driving range in just 10 minutes, using rapid-charging stations. Or 25 minutes to boost the battery’s charge from five to 80 per cent.
Audi’s fastest electric A6 model, which has the potential to adopt the company’s sportiest RS badge, claims to sprint from 0-100km/h in less than four seconds. (The current, V8-powered RS6 Avant has a claim of 3.6 seconds.)
This electric hatchback is coming to Australia as part of Chinese brand BYD’s confirmed entry into our market, via distributor Nexport.
It comes with a couple of big claims: a driving range of up to 1000km and, in its fastest form, 0-100km/h acceleration in under 3.0 seconds.
BYD (Build Your Dreams) has revealed few technical details so far but is also promising recharging capability that can add 150km of driving range every five minutes.
The EA1 uses BYD’s e-Platform 3, which the company says directly integrates battery cells into the vehicle structure to double body rigidity and improve both safety and interior space.
Taking the name of Ford’s visually dramatic, multi-gullwing-doored 2011 concept, the Evos is a production-ready model that is the first to be developed by the company’s China team, the Changan-Ford joint venture.
The coupe-crossover is destined for China only at this stage, among 30 new Ford or Lincoln models planned for the world’s biggest car market.
Evos shares its FNV (fully networked vehicle) platform with the Mustang Mach-E electric crossover, with the ability to take updates wirelessly.
Inside, the Evos’s cabin presentation is spearheaded by a 1.1-metre-wide digital dashboard comprising a 12.3-inch driver display and 27-inch 4K infotainment screen. The Sync+ 2.0 operating system includes a virtual personal assistant.
Ford has yet to divulge tech specs for the Evos, though it will reportedly debut with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine borrowed from the new Bronco Sport.
Genesis Electrified G80
This is the first electric vehicle from Hyundai’s fledgling luxury brand.
Set to join the G80 large luxury car range in Australia in early 2022, the Electrified variant is powered by a pair of electric motors – one on each axle for all-wheel drive.
With 272kW and 700Nm produced in total by the two motors, the electric G80 has a touch less power but significantly more torque than the twin-turbo V6 3.5T AWD G80 (279kW/530Nm).
That makes a touch quicker, with a 0-100km/h claim of 4.9 seconds versus the 3.5T’s 5.1 seconds.
Korean testing points to a range a bit north of 400km, with the vehicle able to switch from AWD to FWD to aid efficiency.
Charging the Electrified G80’s battery from 10 to 80 per cent could be as fast as 22 minutes using a 350kW rapid-charging station.
Honda SUV E: Prototype
The E:Prototype previews a fully electric version of Honda’s third-generation HR-V compact SUV and is due around mid 2022, at least in China.
There are bespoke front and rear ends for the vehicle that will join the hybrid HR-V previously unveiled.
This is the first of 10 Honda EVs set for the Chinese market over the next five years and expected for other markets at some point.
Technical details for now are as slim as the E:Prototype’s LED headlights.
A rare non-electric car! At least not completely. Though the updated ES is still electrified in part, like its predecessor it features a petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain. Updates to the seventh-generation Lexus large car, due here in the second half of 2021, include a more dramatic interpretation of the brand’s ‘spindle’ grille and a new headlight set-up.
There’s also a new option for the headlights – the ‘BladeScan’ adaptive high-beam system that uses a spinning blade mirror to more effectively shield light and increase illumination.
Engineers have beefed up the ES’s rear suspension for claimed improvements in ride and handling, including an update for the F Sport variant’s adaptive suspension.
Connectivity and safety aids are enhanced, while inside a new 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen is also moved 10cm closer to front occupants for better ergonomics.
Maserati Levante Hybrid
It’s electrification on a smaller scale here, with Maserati unveiling its mild-hybrid SUV.
The Levante Hybrid will join the Ghibli Hybrid already available in Australia, using the same combination of turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and 48-volt battery pack.
A belt starter generator recovers energy during deceleration and braking, charging the 48V battery that in turn provides some assistance to the petrol engine at low revs via an eBooster electric compressor, before the conventional turbo does its thing. Maserati says the eBooster provides another surge in Sport mode when the engine’s peak rpm is reached.
The upshot is a 246kW/450Nm drivetrain that provides identical performance to the 257kW/500Nm Levante petrol V6 – 0-100km/h in 6.0 seconds – yet with a claimed 18 per cent reduction in fuel use.
Maserati also reckons the positioning of the batteries under the boot and over the rear axle helps offset the weight of the drivetrain up front for improved handling.
It’s a busy time for electric Benzes. The GLA-based EQA compact SUV was unveiled in January, the EQS electric limo was revealed on the eve of Shanghai, then at the show itself the wraps were taken off the GLB-based EQB seven-seater.
As with the German brand’s other electric SUVs, there’s a similar design to the more conventionally powered donor vehicle with notable exceptions to the GLB being the covered grille area and aero-focused wheel rims.
Underneath is the Modular Front Architecture (MFA2) found under compact Mercedes models, with the EQB (as with the EQA) featuring a floor-mounted battery pack.
Several variants will be offered, starting with what is expected to be an EQB250 sharing the EQA250’s 66.5kWh battery capacity, 140kW and front-wheel drive.
An EQB350 4Matic with all-wheel drive and more power has a 419km range, according to Europe’s WLTP test standard.
This certainly makes a change from the practical, value-focused family SUVs we’ve come accustomed to from British-turned-Chinese-owned brand MG, even if it is a concept.
The Cyberster is a stunning two-door, two-seater convertible that harks back to MG sports cars of yore.
There’s a split cockpit dividing driver and passenger, with the former presented with a Formula 1-style steering wheel and digital instrument display.
Performance covers off the 0-100km/h sprint in less than three seconds, we’re told, while the Cyberster’s range is a more-than-handy 800km.
While MG’s conceptual sports car is more real than a Cyberman, production isn’t expected, sadly. But the company’s 2017 E-Motion GT concept is still set to make the assembly line.
And the Big T is off. After virtually single-handedly bringing hybrid vehicle technology into the mainstream, Toyota is now joining the EV revolution.
The bZ4X concept, a mid-sized SUV that looks like a sportier RAV4, heralds the start of the company’s upcoming range of battery-electric vehicles.
There are 15 of them coming by 2025, with seven set to adopt the ‘bZ’ prefix that stands for ‘Beyond Zero’ – inspired by Toyota’s goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
Tech details are initially limited for the bZ4X, which is due in showrooms by mid 2022. All we know for now is that it has been co-developed with Subaru, sits on the e-TNGA platform, and features electric motors front and rear for all-wheel drive.
Replenishing the bZ4X’s battery is also possible while stationary, courtesy of a solar recharging system (which will be particularly handy in Australia, we imagine).
The bZ4X also features steer-by-wire technology, though drivers will no doubt be more transfixed by the KITT 2000-inspired (or 2021 Tesla Model S-aping?) yoke-style steering wheel.
How are you finding our new site design? Tell us in the comments below or send us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get your monthly fix of news, reviews and stories on the greatest cars and minds in the automotive world.
Hyundai Kona Electric ‘Standard Range’ coming to Australia
Hyundai will bring a more affordable variant of its popular Kona Electric to Australia, at the cost of a reduced driving range
Hyundai Santa Cruz production gets underway in US
Korea’s Ford Maverick challenger will be in American showrooms in just a few short months
Volkswagen Golf Mk8 pricing and specs revealed
Revised and refreshed Golf hits the market to take on Asian rivals