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In Los Angeles, Tesla’s Competitors Launch Bigger, Cheaper Electric SUVs

An interior view of the Fisker Ocean during the 2021 LA Auto Show in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November, 17, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 18 (Reuters) – Automakers chasing electric vehicle leader Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) have unveiled new, more affordable and larger electric sport utility vehicles at the Los Angeles Auto Show, entering one of the fastest growing segments of the US market.

Kia Motors (000270.KS) called Tesla by name at the show, announcing that its upcoming EV6 electric crossover is breaking Tesla’s previous record for the shortest charge time, crossing the United States, by more than five time.

Kia and its subsidiary Hyundai Motor (005380.KS) also unveiled major three-row electric sport utility vehicle concepts, EV9 and SEVEN. These models are expected to go into production around 2024, said two people familiar with the matter.

“They (Tesla) have strong sales and they have very good brand awareness among the public. But not everything is for everyone. So there should always be an alternative,” said Michael McHale, director of the Kia brand experience.

The focus on electric SUVs reflects the strong preference of American consumers for SUVs, which typically sell for higher prices than sedans of similar size. Large SUVs are the top-selling segment in the U.S. market, industry executives and analysts said.

“Electric vehicles are moving from economical boxes to ambitious vehicles at the heart of the market,” Brett Smith, chief technology officer at the Center for Automotive Research.


Tesla’s challengers are also banking on new features such as a rotating dashboard display in the Fisker Ocean SUV to differentiate themselves from the pack.

Henrik Fisker, managing director of Fisker Inc, said the Ocean will be the first production car with a display that switches between its vertical and horizontal orientations.

“We have applied for a patent on this,” he told Reuters, adding that 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 will appeal to a lot of young people who would like to play on screen. Also when you are sitting charging.”

Fisker and Vinfast have also used the show to get noticed with new models and bold claims that they believe will have more affordable and longer-range vehicles than competing offerings from Tesla. L4N2S803Q

Tesla has become the world’s most valuable automaker, with a market capitalization of over $ 1,000 billion, as it redefined the electric vehicle market with sleek, high-tech cars and SUVs such as the Model Y which offered longer autonomies between charges than its rival. models.

Tesla has taken advantage of its perceived technological advantage and strong demand to raise the prices of its vehicles, especially as the prices of raw materials and semiconductors have increased this year.

Competing electric vehicle manufacturers are seeing an opening.

Vinfast’s global managing director, Michael Lohscheller, has said his vehicles will be “reasonably priced,” which is key to getting people to switch from gasoline-powered cars to electric cars.

Fisker said that outsourcing model production to Magna International has allowed the company to shorten development time and thus utilize the latest long-range battery technology from supplier CATL.

“The technology is very new. Most other automakers choose their technologies three years before the vehicle is released,” he said.

But it would be difficult for automakers and historic startups to take on Tesla, which is “synonymous with electric vehicles,” Smith said.

GM and Nissan have launched electric cars, but none of them have dented Tesla’s dominance, said Smith of Automotive Research. Scaling up electric vehicles is another challenge, he added.

“The electric vehicle opens up opportunities for many companies, regardless of their origin,” he said.

“Because Tesla did it, that doesn’t mean it’s easy, or that others are going to do it.”

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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