SHANGHAI, April 19-- Car models supporting autonomous driving and Internet-based services are bright spots at the 2017 Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition, which opened to media Wednesday.
A total of 113 models of car made their global debut at the auto show, which has attracted more than 1,000 exhibitors from 18 countries and regions. The 1,400 complete vehicles exhibited include 159 new energy vehicles and 56 concept cars.
The theme of this year's auto show is "Committed to Better Life," and the event will be open to the public from April 21 to 28.
The Shanghai-based electric vehicle startup Nio made its much-awaited domestic debut at the show, bringing a model of its concept driverless car EVE, whose interior space is designed as a living room.
Li Bin, founder of Nio, said that when humans are freed from driving in the future, the car would be transformed into a space for relaxation and entertainment.
Domestic auto maker Roewe unveiled its new model i6 16T, featuring a smart operation system that has access to mobile payment tool Alipay.
When the driver gets on the car, the system tells them to bring an umbrella if it is going to rain. It can select routes based on real-time road conditions and the driver's habits, and can even help order and pay for a take-away coffee.
Sales of the RX5, another Roewe model that carries a similar system, have exceeded 140,000 since it was released eight months ago.
German manufacturer BMW also brought new models featuring intelligent driving to the show.
"The concept of 'Auto plus Internet' is not only about surfing the Internet in the car," said Chen Zhixin, president of Shanghai-based SAIC Motor. "A car should be seen as a smart end-product embedded with various functions supported by cloud services."
New energy vehicles (NEV) are also making waves at the show, including Nio's two-door EP9, a contender for the title of the world's fastest electric car. A total of 159 NEVs are on display at the event.
In 2016, more than 500,000 NEVs were sold in China, accounting for over40 percent of global sales. The growth was up 50 percent year on year.
China has had the world's largest car market for eight consecutive years. About 28 million cars were sold in China in 2016, up 13.7 percent year on year thanks to preferential purchase policies and other government measures, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
Growth in auto sales in 2017 were estimated to slow to an annual 2 to 6 percent, according to the ministry.