By CRI biz reporter Luo Dan
A new car brand must be based on daredevil ideas to win a place in an exhibition hall full of luxury brands, such as Ferrari, Maserati and Rolls Royce. But that is something Denza is trying to defy.
The young brand was established only a few weeks ahead of the largest auto festival in China, which runs from late April to early May. It is the maiden concept car from a new joint venture between German auto giant Daimler and Chinese partner BYD. The company is solely dedicated to new energy vehicles.
Instead of being an oddly shaped, sci-fi concept that can only be displayed on an exhibition stage, the blue, all-electric sedan model is set to impress more consumers in China. Lian Yubo is the CEO of Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology. He says Denza aims to blend cutting-edge green technology with outstanding mobility solutions.
"Denza will try to define a new level of sophistication in the Chinese new energy vehicle segment. BYD is providing its expertise in battery technology and e-drive systems as well as its experience in putting electric vehicles on the roads of China. Daimler is contributing more than 125 years of excellence in automotive design and know-how in vehicle architecture, safety and quality. In short, we are trying to develop a high-end electric car brand."
Lian also says the 4.6-meter-long car features an ambient light system, lounge-like interior, wood and copper detailing, and rear-hinged rear doors. All these will cater to Chinese customers who value safety, comfort, quality and accessibility.
Denza's debut comes after the price of gas in China hit a record high of more than 8 yuan per liter in March, with little indication of a major drop. Lian Yubo believes this provides a good opportunity for electric cars, as potential buyers have to think twice about how they can reduce their driving costs.
"For example, if I drive 100 kilometers in an electric car, 20 kilowatt-hours of energy will be consumed. If I charge my car in the evening, it will cost less than 0.5 yuan per kilowatt-hour, and the total cost will be about 10 yuan. But if I drive a conventional car, 10 liters of petrol will be consumed, and I would have to pay 80 yuan. Therefore, the driving cost would be dramatically reduced. In that case, new energy cars will become popular, even without purchase incentives from the government."
Swedish automaker Volvo also has some tricks up its sleeve at the Beijing auto show. Its eco-friendly product is a hybrid plug-in SUV which splits petrol and electric power between the front and rear axles, respectively, for better fuel efficiency and driving performance.
Lennart Stegland is in charge of R&D of Volvo's electrical propulsion systems. He explains the technology in detail.
"What we introduce here is XC60 plug-in hybrid. This time, we have combined it with the next motor generation or engine generation, which we find in Volvo is a highly efficient four-cylinder engine, which is equipped in such a way with what we call a crank ESG and electrical e-drive in the rear, and with a range of 45 kilometers can give the combination of both a pure electrical drive and very powerful drive. That is in a car which is petrol-end in the front, which we work with China and the United States."
Stegland says some European countries also have preferential practices for new energy vehicles, such as exemption from traffic congestion fees and recharging stations at workplaces where employees can plug their cars in during the day. That is something China can learn from.