Chinese car brands are preparing to invade the UK fleet market

Chinese car brands are preparing to invade the UK fleet market

This feature is taken from our Fleet Leadership Report. Click here To read it.

Drivers are already faced with a wide choice when deciding on a new car. Long gone are the days of the fleet user choosing a Ford or Vauxhall.

Even the premium market is changing. Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz must now compete for customers with the likes of Hyundai and Kia, with both brands taking a step up.

The recent success of these Korean carmakers among British consumers shows how receptive the UK market is to Asian brands.

While legacy European brands struggle to convert their models from internal combustion engines (ICEs) to electric motors, brands from abroad have a chance to swoop in and make their mark.

China has become the world’s largest producer of electric vehicles in a short space of time, and although its footprint in Europe is only small at the moment, its tremendous pace of growth and ability to expand rapidly means that Chinese electric vehicles will become a much more familiar sight on our roads in the future.

It is expected that 10 new Chinese brands will be launched in the UK by the end of the decade, providing a wider choice of vehicles for fleet managers and company car drivers.

Psych

China’s largest automaker is state-owned SAIC, headquartered in Shanghai. The group acquired MG in 2008, and transferred production of all MG models to its Chinese factories in 2017.

MG’s rebirth took place in stages. It initially established a new retail and aftersales network selling a range of budget hatchbacks and SUVs. Electric models were then introduced into the range, culminating with the recent launch of the MG 4. The latest MG is built on the new SAIC platform developed specifically for electric vehicles.

It’s modular, so expect a whole host of new models to be launched in key segments using the underpinnings.

MG also revealed the Cyberster electric sports car, which will debut in 2024.

It will be the halo model of the brand and marks its departure from the budget segment. SAIC also owns the Maxus commercial vehicle brand, which has a growing range of electric trucks and currently offers the only electric pick-up truck to buyers in the UK.

jelly

Geely is potentially another Chinese car superpower, the group to which British drivers will have the most exposure. Geely acquired Volvo Cars in 2010, paving the way for a major overhaul of its models based on two new platforms.

The popular XC90 SUV was the first car to appear. It is joined by the S90, XC60 and S60. The XC40 was the first model to feature an electric powertrain, and Volvo is now gearing up to launch a new range of electric cars as it seeks to eliminate all ICE variants by 2030.

While Volvo has been Geely’s biggest success story in the UK market, its decision to spin off its Polestar tuning division and launch it as a separate brand was significant and the majority of Polestar’s customers are fleets.

Polestar only offers one base model at the moment, but will have a full range in a few years.

The Polestar 2 shares a platform with the Volvo XC40 and both brands will soon launch a large electric vehicle marketed as the Volvo EX90 and Polestar 3.

Geely’s platform sharing strategy also extends to its relationship with Mercedes-Benz and Smart.

Geely bought 50% of Smart in 2019 and just launched the No. 1 compact electric SUV. It uses Geely’s new platform and electric powertrain, which also underpins the upcoming Volvo EX30. Smart will be building a full range of models over the coming years.

As well as acquiring Smart, Geely also controls Lotus – another brand familiar to UK drivers. Lotus has transformed from a small-volume niche car manufacturer into a premium electric car brand.

The Eletre is the first model to be launched and more SUVs and saloons will follow.

The new Lotus EVs will be manufactured in China. Two more Geely brands are scheduled to launch in the UK during this decade.

There’s Lynk & Co, which produces a range of models based on Volvo platforms, and Zeekr, a high-end brand that will tie in with Polestar. Both are expected to operate via a direct sales model and leverage Volvo’s retail network for after-sales care.

BYD

BYD – or Build Your Dreams – is a Chinese brand that is moving forward with plans to launch in the UK. The Atto 3 compact SUV arrived in the spring, quickly followed by the Dolphin hatchback.

Before the end of the year, BYD will also launch the Sail, a D-segment electric saloon. The latter two form part of its Ocean series and are built on dedicated EV platforms.

BYD has already appointed a UK fleet sales director, Eric van Monsteren, and has promised lead times of less than three months for its cars.

Unlike many new brands, the company is building a retail network and expects to have 100 locations by 2025.

Chery cars

Chery is the largest automobile exporter in China, with well-established customer bases in Asia, Russia and South America. It also produces cars under the Br brand for the Italian market. In the UK, Chery will introduce Omoda – a new brand founded last year. Sales of the first Omoda model are expected to begin in 2024. The Omoda 5 will lead the brand’s arrival. It is a mid-sized crossover that belongs to the same category as the Nissan Qashqai. The manufacturer is targeting 15,000 Omoda 5 registrations in the first year, a mix of fleet and retail, with petrol and full electric available at launch. A full range of Omoda models will follow.

Great Wall Motors

UK fleet buyers may be familiar with Great Wall as the producer of the Steed pick-up truck, which was the cheapest model in its class at the time of its launch.

While the Steed has long been discontinued, Great Wall last year introduced ORA, a new electric car brand in the UK.

The ORA Funky Cat will go on sale in autumn 2022, as a high-spec, retro-styled city car. In early 2024, ORA will expand its lineup with a new sedan.

The yet-to-be-named model will have a range of about 300 miles and power of up to 400 horsepower.

ORA models are distributed by the IM Group in the UK, which also imports Subaru and Isuzu. As a result, there is already a growing network of sales and after-sales sites across the country.

Aways

AiWays entered the Chinese market in 2017 as a startup and has grown so quickly that it has begun its European expansion.

The automaker had planned to start selling cars in Europe in 2020, but its plans were put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic.

It has already established itself in Germany, operating through a direct sales model, and has confirmed that the UK will be the first right-hand drive market it targets.

The brand has two models: U5 and U6.

Both are SUVs and use electric motors. The U5 competes with the VW ID4, while the U6 is larger and targets a more premium market.

New

Nio is the Chinese brand with the largest USP.

Unlike other EV manufacturers, Nio has developed a battery swapping program that enables drivers to swap out their dead battery for a new one in a matter of minutes.

The carmaker has already set up a management team in the UK. Matt Galvin, formerly of Volvo, is managing director of the brand, while former Honda fleet boss Mark Samuel will be national fleet sales director.

Galvin recently confirmed that the brand’s UK launch was on hold until it could create the necessary infrastructure to support battery exchanges.

In China, Nio has installed more than 1,200 Power Swap stations. It is currently rolling out a network in Norway, the Netherlands and Germany.

Earlier this year, the brand unveiled a new electric car and electric SUV that will form part of its European range.

The ET5 will compete with the BMW i5 Touring and offer a range of 270 to 350 miles, depending on the model.

The EL6 will compete with the Audi Q8 e-tron and can go 300 miles between charges.

Exping

The Xpeng models will go on sale in the UK next year, as part of the brand’s European expansion.

Outside its home market, Xpeng already sells electric vehicles in Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

Company president Brian Gou confirmed that Germany, France and the United Kingdom are next.

The Xpeng G6 electric SUV will be the first to reach British shores. Based on a new platform, the G6 features an 800V electrical architecture and can charge at speeds of up to 480 kilowatts.

Two powertrain variants are offered, which in testing achieved ranges of 360 and 469 miles.

Other Xpeng models, not yet confirmed for sale in the UK, include the G3 mid-size SUV, the P7 and P5 saloons and the flagship G9 SUV.

Xpeng has developed its own charging network in China, similar to the Tesla Supercharger network, and is investing heavily in developing self-driving technology.

It is in

The HiPhi is expected to arrive in the UK by 2026.

The company produces luxury cars with high technology and distinctive design. It will sell its first two cars, the HiPhi Z and HiPhi X, in Europe by the end of this year.

However, the UK market will have to wait a little longer.

The HiPhi Z is a sedan that sits alongside the Audi eTron GT and Porsche Taycan.

The HiPhi X is a Tesla Model A smaller crossover, the HiPhi Y, is also on the cards for the brand’s European expansion.

As the role of the Fleet Decision Maker (FDM) becomes more complex, leadership has become a critical quality.

Today’s successful FDMs need to lead their teams, drivers and key stakeholders through a variety of topics, from energy management to electric vehicles (EVs), supply chain management to automated technology.

They must be at the forefront of industry developments to guide their companies and ensure that the fleet meets business needs in the most efficient and effective way.

Professional fleet leaders have the ability to successfully implement policies and adapt to a constantly changing environment.

They experiment and are the first to test new initiatives. They communicate clearly and often with those around them, which helps gain acceptance of new ideas.

People leadership has moved up the priority list thanks to a greater focus on employee well-being, whether that be within the fleet teams themselves or among the driving workforce.

The need to transition to electric vehicles has opened the floodgates to a new vocabulary around workplace charging infrastructure (kilowatts, resistors, cables, overload capacity..), as well as the creation of new relationships with distribution network operators that would otherwise have been unheard of. Only three or four years ago. In every case, leadership is vital.

In this special Fleet leadership reportwe look at some of the areas that have the biggest impact on the way fleets operate, and provide advice and insight to give FDMs the confidence to make the right decisions and formulate the best strategies.

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