At this year’s Guangzhou Auto Show, BMW and its China joint-venture partner Brilliance have finally revealed the first model of their new sub-brand line Zinoro—an electric vehicle (EV) based on BMW’s X1.
The new Zinoro (Zhi Nuo in Chinese) is the first in a line of electric cars that will be based on existing BMW models and manufactured in China. China Car Times has a rundown of the car’s technical aspects:
The X1 has been given a pure electric drive train which will give it an effective range of 150km on a full charge and a max power of 125kW and a max speed of 130km/h, however max torque is relatively low for an EV with just 250Nm on tap, but via the rear wheels at least.
The lithium iron phosphate batteries will take 7.5 hours to reach a full charge from a home socket but could potentially be much faster from other higher output outlets. The Zo 1E has bulked up a little, the full car now weighs in at 1970kg against the 2.0L naturally aspirated RWD BMW X1 which weighs in at 1605kg.
Although BMW executives have mulled exporting the sub-brand, this model is clearly in an experimental phase, as it will be available via rental agreements, not purchase. The creation of the sub-brand is likely a response to several factors, including the Chinese government’s growing restrictions on vehicles due to pollution problems, tax breaks on domestically produced electric vehicles, high tariffs on imported cars, and protectionist government measures such as a recent state-run media campaign accusing foreign auto companies of inflating prices on their imported cars.
However, the Zinoro has its work cut out for it, as electric vehicles face major challenges in China. According to a recent article by Earth Techling:
The central government agenda has long wanted to consolidate Chinese auto companies, but local governments resist. The industry employs millions of Chinese, brings in significant research money and can be very lucrative. This is the problem: the Chinese central government has played a large role in shepherding other industries to international domination, funneling funds to the state-owned enterprises to help them succeed. It is trying to do the same with EVs. Beijing may set policy, but local governments implement it, and their spending has been wasteful and inefficient. This is in contrast to the U.S., where domestic efforts to promote electric vehicles – coordinated local efforts among states, private industry programs and federal policy proposals – are growing.
One EV company that is undertaking a radically unique business model in China is Tesla, which just opened its first China showroom in Beijing. The EV company’s $146,000 imported models serve as a luxury status symbol, not an economically incentivized purchase. Tesla, like BMW, also appears to see China as an experiment, as its CEO Elon Musk has referred to the China market as a “wild card.” It’s still unclear whether either of these two companies’ radically different business models will pan out, if another homegrown company emerges as an EV leader, or if the EV market is able to take off at any capacity in the China market.