Shanghai Motor Show 2023 shines a light on the latest EVs heading our way
China is leading the way when it comes to electrification. Its domestic carmakers have largely turned their backs on ICE, or are heading that way, and due to the size of the market, many other global brands look at Shanghai as a place to show off their latest EVs.
Chinese car firms have long been seen as inferior to European and American counterparts. But as China opens its doors and embraces the world at Shanghai, it’s a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that not only are its carmakers a match, in many ways they’re ahead of the game. For those established, global manufacturers, the opportunity is mainly to get in front of a Chinese public hungry for Western brands which are often seen as a status symbol.
Here's the best of what the show had to offer in terms of cars which will make it to Europe:
BMW i7 M70
Now BMW’s most powerful EV, the i7 M70 was officially unveiled at the Shanghai Motor Show which isn’t too surprising given China’s love of large, powerful saloons. It packs 650bhp through a dual motor setup, alongside 749lb-ft of torque with 811lb-ft available using M Launch Control and M Sport Boost functions. Despite these large numbers, the inevitable heft means it takes 3.7 seconds to hit 62mph, and it is limited to 155mph at the top end. Range is up to 348 miles thanks to a 101.7kWh battery, whilst charging is dealt with at up to 195kW. It’s due on sale later this year.
Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV
Mercedes’ ultra-luxury arm, Maybach, is no stranger to taking Merc’s tech and applying its own brand of decadence for the world’s ultra-rich. Traditionally focussed on saloon-based limousines, the EQS SUV is the latest model to fall victim to Maybach, gaining two-tone paint and unique wheels on the outside. However, it’s on the inside where most of the focus has been with new Nappa leather seats, a Burmester 4D surround sound system, new 11.6 inch screens for the rear seat passengers, plus a built-in fridge and Maybach ‘goblets’. It packs a dual-motor powertrain with 659bhp and 701lb-ft, with a range of up to 373 miles possible.
Hitting the road in 2025 in standard form, the MINI Aceman is due to take up its place in the MINI range between the hatch and the Countryman. Nothing that we didn’t already know was revealed at Shanghai, but the brand has aspirations for it to be a big seller in Asia as well as its more traditional UK and US markets. In 2026, MINI will launch the more powerful SE version, so fans of a more dynamic driving experience will have to be patient.
One of China’s biggest EV brands, Nio has made tentative plans to enter Europe already, but the ES6 could well be the car which enables them to establish themselves. Costing a little over £40k and rivalling SUVs like the Audi Q5, it blends performance with decent range and contemporary, if slightly dull styling. As much as 544bhp will be on offer, meaning 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds, whilst a new 84kWh battery will offer up to 319 miles of range. Nio’s existing 70kWh battery pack will also be on offer. Whether Nio finally makes the push into Europe remains to be seen.
Polestar is one of the foremost – and best – EV only brands in Europe. Its latest model, the Polestar 4, is a sleek crossover which should be able to hold a candle to performance SUVs like those from Porsche and Sportback models from Audi. Perhaps one of the most obvious features of the 4 is the lack of rear window, which is all down to the fact that this has allowed Polestar to improve the car’s aerodynamic performance, giving it a drag coefficient of 0.269.
At just under 5000mm long, the 4 isn’t a small car, but both single and dual motor options have plenty of power and a substantial battery of 102kWh (94kWh useable). The single motor version will have 268bhp, whilst the dual motor version packs 537bhp. Prices should start at around £50k, putting it firmly in the ballpark of its direct rivals. Interestingly, the 4 is being built in China and will be launched there first before hitting UK streets early in 2024.
Hot on the heels of the smart #1, the EV-only brand has expanded both literally and figuratively with the unveiling of the smart #3 – a slightly larger SUV at 4400mm long, 1800mm wide and 1600mm tall. This puts it in the same broad size bracket as SUVs like the VW ID.5 and KIA EV6. A coupe body style jumps on the ongoing trend for SUVs with even less practicality, and we are expecting the #3 to share a powertrain with its smaller sibling meaning 268bhp from a single motor. An on-sale date in early 2024 is likely.
VW is joining in the EV saloon race to take on cars like the IONIQ 6 and Tesla Model 3 with the ID.7. It’ll bring with it one of the longest ranges for a ‘regular’ EV, claiming up to 435 miles from an 86kWh battery in ID.7 Pro S form and trumping its rival along the way. The 77kWh battery option in the ID.7 Pro will still be good for 382 miles – squeezing more range from the well-proven battery that the ID.3, 4 and 5 it’s already found in. Both versions get a 282bhp motor driving the rear wheels for 0-62mph in six seconds. Down the line, a ‘hot’ GTX variant will add all-wheel drive and just under 400bhp.
Size-wise, the ID.7 is just under five metres long, making it a large car. This does afford it a wheelbase of around three metres meaning plenty of space inside, where buyers will find massage seats, a 15 inch central infotainment screen, augmented head-up display and a panoramic roof. Infotainment will be from a fully overhauled MIB software platform as well as UX and UI which have learned from the mistakes of previous versions. Expect it to sell for around £50k when it launches in the UK later this year.