New SUV models star at China auto show under virus controls

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Stephan Wollenstein, CEO of Volkswagen Group China, prepares to present the ID 6 SUV during a launch event at the Shanghai Auto Show in Shanghai on Monday, April 19, 2021. Volkswagen unveiled the electric SUV made for China ahead of the opening Monday of the Shanghai auto show, the industry's biggest marketing event in a year overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

SHANGHAI – Volkswagen, Ford and Chinese brands unveiled new SUVs for China on Monday at the Shanghai auto show, the industry’s biggest marketing event in a year overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Automakers are looking to China, the biggest auto market by sales volume and the first major economy to rebound from the pandemic, to propel a revival in demand and reverse multibillion-dollar losses.

Auto Shanghai 2021 takes place under anti-virus controls that included holding some news conferences by video link. Few executives from abroad are attending. Reporters were required to undergo virus tests.

The latest models reflect accelerating momentum toward electrification and designing models for Chinese tastes. Automakers rely increasingly on research and design centers in China to create models for global sale.

Ford Motor Co. presented a midsize SUV, the EVOS, the first vehicle created largely by a China-based team under a 2-year-old strategy to integrate Ford’s Chinese operations into global product development. The automaker also exhibited a plug-in hybrid SUV, the Escape, and an all-electric Mustang Mach-E.

“We’re moving away from just looking at list of features, but much more focused on how how does that all come together in terms of the experience for the customer," said Tim Slatter, vice president of Ford China. “And that can all be enabled with this very rich, digitally connected environment.”

Volkswagen AG said its all-electric ID.6, available in six- and seven-seat models, aims to create a “lounge on wheels” with semi-automated driving and other technology. The German auto giant's Audi unit displayed a concept version of its A6 e-tron sedan, the first of a family of electric cars due out next year.

Toyota Motor Co. introduced its bZ4X Concept battery-electric SUV, one of 70 electrified vehicles the automaker says it will release globally by 2025.