Chinese cars are already here: these are the brands making their debut at Automobile Barcelona

The manufacturers that have traditionally dominated the national automobile market have been the European brands, many of them hundreds of years old, without forgetting the big American firms either.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
22 May 2023 Monday 15:14
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Chinese cars are already here: these are the brands making their debut at Automobile Barcelona

The manufacturers that have traditionally dominated the national automobile market have been the European brands, many of them hundreds of years old, without forgetting the big American firms either. Several decades ago, with the irruption of the Japanese, first, and the Koreans, later, the balance between East and West was more balanced. Today, the global automotive scene is immersed in profound structural and conceptual changes, which is why more and more players are gaining technological and commercial prominence.

The emergence of electromobility has a lot to do with it, and that is that electrification is a source of opportunities for new brands and manufacturers to break into markets where they were not present. This is the case of the Spanish market, where companies of Chinese origin are beginning to proliferate until now unknown to the general public. Some of them are large companies and industrial corporations with great power in their areas of influence; others are newly created emerging firms, but until now all of them were little more than an 'exotic rarity' for Spanish drivers.

The Automobile Barcelona, ​​which ends today, is a good example of the force with which some of these brands break into our territory, with a varied offer, a wide and competitive range with products to match -and in some cases above- than many European generalists offer. Below we review some of the "new" leading names of this edition.

Hand in hand with Astara, which markets Mitsubishi, Subaru and SsangYong, among other brands, in our country, the Aiways firm has exhibited its latest products in Barcelona. Airways is a newly created company. Founded in 2017, it is headquartered in Shanghai with its European headquarters in Munich. With no prior ties to the automotive industry, it was the first Chinese start-up to introduce an electric vehicle to the European market with the U5, a "traditional" format electric SUV. Along with him, the U6, the new SUV Coupe-style variant, 4.80 m long, has worn these days. Both electrics share components and battery, so both offer 218 CV of power and a range of more than 400 km.

The Maxus brand, also under Astara distribution in Spain for just over two years, has its origins in the United Kingdom and has a long history in the development and manufacture of industrial vehicles. Currently, it belongs to the Asian automotive group SAIC Motor, the world's seventh largest automobile manufacturer, and the largest manufacturer of automotive batteries in the world. In Barcelona it has been present with the Maxus T-90, an innovative double-cab electric pick-up –the first of its characteristics– with 204 CV of power and a range of 330 km. On the other hand, the Maxus MIFA 9 is a large, luxuriously configured and equipped 7-seater premium MPV. It yields 245 CV of power and its emission-free autonomy reaches 420 km.

Founded in China in 1995 and present in Europe since 1998, BYD (Build Your Dreams) is one of the world's largest manufacturers of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, accumulating more than 4.1 million units sold. With a presence in 70 countries, it plays an important role in industries related to the automotive industry, electronics, renewable energy and rail transport.

BYD has chosen the Automobile to show the new Dolphin to the European public for the first time, a 4,290 mm long C-segment car with a high level of practicality, efficiency, accessibility and long range. For its part, the Seal, a 4,800 mm D-segment saloon that combines technology and sportiness, has also been shown to the Spanish public for the first time at the brand's stand in Barcelona. Both models will reach Spanish dealers during the second half of the year. These two innovations join the three 100% electric models that are currently on sale in our country: the Atto 3, the Tang and the Han, also present at the Montjuïc site.

It is an Italian group that debuted as a car manufacturer in 2006 and assembles the vehicles it sells at its facilities – coming from China and whose technological base belongs to consolidated manufacturers such as Chery or GAC – under four different brands: DR, EVO, ICKX and Sportequipe. With some technical and aesthetic modifications to adapt to the preferences of European tastes, DR affects aspects such as simplicity, practicality and reliability of its range, based mainly on low-priced SUVs. Under the DR emblem, there is a wide variety of models that cover all segments of the SUV category. There are five "sizes", from 4.15m to 4.70m: 3.0, 4.0, 5.0, 6.0 and 7.0. They have gasoline engines enabled to run on LPG, a highly successful formula in Italy that helps to lower usage costs. DR also has electric options, such as the small urban four-seater 1.0.

The transalpine group applies the same philosophy to the EVO brand, teaching that it combines economy and equipment in its offer. Its 3, 4, 5 and Cross models move away from the search for status and instead pursue mobility that is as accessible as possible. With SUV aesthetics, the first three are equipped with gasoline engines, while the last one is a pick-up that uses diesel mechanics.

Sportequipe proposes a somewhat higher range for its models both in terms of performance and mechanics as well as in its appearance, such as the S6 that could be seen at the group's stand. With a sportier and more careful image, this SUV with a turbo gasoline engine exceeds 150 HP. Finally, the fourth company present in Barcelona, ​​belonging to the DR group, was ICKX, which showed the K2, a "pure" SUV, one of those that no longer exist –although with an undeniable resemblance to the Jeep Wrangler– and which is equipped, alternatively, with a 162 CV diesel block or a 262 CV turbocharged gasoline.