At the Los Angeles Auto Show, automakers pursuing Tesla Inc unveiled new, more affordable, and bigger electric sport utility vehicles, racing into one of the fastest-growing categories of the US market.
At the exhibition, Kia Motors singled out Tesla, claiming that its forthcoming electric crossover EV6 had broken Tesla’s previous record for the quickest charging time when travelling across the United States by more than five hours.
The EV9 and SEVEN ideas, developed by Kia and its partner Hyundai Motor, are enormous three-row electric sport utility vehicles. These vehicles are scheduled to hit the market in 2024, according to two sources familiar with the situation.
“They (Tesla) have strong sales and they have a very good public awareness. But not everything is for everybody. So there should also always be an alternative,” said Michael McHale, Kia’s brand experience director.
The focus on electric SUVs underscores American buyers’ strong fondness for SUVs, which often sell for more money than comparable-sized cars. According to industry leaders and analysts, large SUVs are the most popular category in the US market.
“EVs are going from econo boxes to aspirational vehicles to the heart of the market,” Brett Smith, technology director at Center for Automotive Research.
To set themselves apart from the pack, Tesla rivals are relying on unique features like the Fisker Ocean SUV’s revolving dashboard screen.
The Ocean, according to Henrik Fisker, CEO of Fisker Inc, will be the first production car with a screen that can move between vertical and horizontal positions.
“We filed a patent on it,” he told Reuters, adding the screen will be supplied by Foxconn Technology Co Ltd (2354.TW), which will also produce Fisker’s electric SUVs in the United States.
“I think it’s going to appeal to a lot of young people who would love to play around on the screen. Also when you’re sitting charging.”
Fisker and Vinfast also utilised the exhibition to get their names out there with new models and bold promises that their vehicles will be more inexpensive and have a greater range than Tesla’s competitors.
Tesla has surpassed Toyota as the most valuable carmaker in the world, with a market value of more than $1 trillion, after redefining the electric vehicle industry with stylish, high-tech sedans and SUVs like the Model Y that offered greater driving ranges between charges than competitors.
Tesla has used its perceived technological advantage and high demand to raise vehicle pricing, especially as raw material and chip prices have climbed this year.
Rival electric vehicle manufacturers see an opportunity.
Vinfast’s worldwide CEO, Michael Lohscheller, stated that the company’s vehicles will have “fair price,” which is critical in convincing customers to transition from gasoline to electric vehicles.
Fisker claims that outsourcing model manufacturing to Magna International has allowed the business to save development time and so utilise CATL’s newest long-range battery technology.
“The technology is very new. Most other car makers, they choose their technologies three years before the vehicle comes out,” he said.
But Smith said that for legacy automakers and startups, it would be challenging to rival and challenge Tesla, since it is “synonymous with electric vehicles”.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)