In Los Angeles, Tesla’s rivals are launching larger, cheaper electric SUVs

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 18 (Reuters) – Automakers on the hunt for electric vehicle operator Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) unveiled new, more affordable, and larger electric sport utility vehicles at the Los Angeles Auto Show that will be in one of the fastest growing segments of the US market.

Kia Motors (000270.KS) called Tesla by name at the show and announced that its upcoming EV6 electric crossover beat Tesla’s previous record for the fastest charge time while driving across the United States by more than five hours.

Kia and its subsidiary Hyundai Motor (005380.KS) also presented the large 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.

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“They (Tesla) have strong sales and they have very good public awareness. But not everything is suitable for everyone. So there should always be an alternative, ”said Michael McHale, Brand Experience Director at Kia.

The focus on electric SUVs reflects the strong preference of US consumers for SUVs, which typically sell at higher prices than sedans of similar size. According to industry managers and analysts, large SUVs are the top-selling segment in the US market.

“From eco-boxes to emerging vehicles, electric vehicles are becoming the heart of the market,” said Brett Smith, technology director at the Center for Automotive Research.


Tesla challengers are also relying on novel features like a rotating dashboard screen in the Fisker Ocean SUV to stand out from the crowd.

Henrik Fisker, CEO of Fisker Inc, said the Ocean will be the first production car with a screen that alternates between its vertical and horizontal orientation.

“We have applied for a patent on it,” he told Reuters, adding that the screen will be supplied by Foxconn Technology Co Ltd (2354.TW), which will also manufacture Fisker’s electric SUVs in the US.

“I think it will appeal to a lot of young people who would love to play around on the screen. Even if you sit and charge.”

Fisker and Vinfast also used the show to get on the radar with new models and bold claims that they believe will have more affordable vehicles with greater range than Tesla’s competitor offerings. L4N2S803Q

Tesla has become the world’s most valuable automaker, with market capitalization exceeding $ 1 trillion, as it has redefined the electric vehicle market with sleek, high-tech cars and SUVs like the Model Y with longer inter-charge ranges than competing models .

Tesla has used its perceived technology lead and strong demand to raise prices on its vehicles, especially as raw material and semiconductor prices have risen this year.

Competing EV manufacturers see an opening.

Vinfast Global Chief Executive Michael Lohscheller said its vehicles will be “reasonably priced” which is key to getting people to switch from gasoline cars to electric cars.

Fisker said outsourcing model production to Magna International has allowed the company to reduce development time, using 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 hits the market,” he said.

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

GM and Nissan have launched electric cars, but neither of them has hurt Tesla’s dominance, said Smith of Automotive Research. Upscaling electric vehicles is another challenge, he added.

“The electric vehicle is an opportunity for many companies, regardless of where they come from,” he said.

“Because Tesla did it, it doesn’t mean it is easy or others will.”

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Reporting from Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Joe White and Nick Zieminski

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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